Monday, June 26, 2017

Atheists Brook No Dissent

We take it as an article of secular faith that atheists are more open minded. Many professed atheists cling to their beliefs because they want to show the world that they reject all religious dogmas in favor of science?

We accept, unthinkingly and unknowingly, that the religious adhere to their dogmas while atheists, rational to a fault, are more open to alternative perspectives. After all, religions—some of them, at least—have notably conducted inquisitions to rid themselves of heretical beliefs.

On this topic history has been flashing a few warning lights. What was totalitarian Communism but an effort to transform cultures and make them more godless? No atheist will accept that Communism represents the goal he is seeking. And yet, people who claim to be empirical thinkers cannot dismiss the Communist effort to atheize culture. If you only accept the evidence that seems to prove you to be right, you are not thinking empirically or scientifically.

If atheists hold up British or American culture as their role models, they will have to recognize that those cultures were based in religious principles. They were not founded or constructed by atheists. As David Hume famously noted, ethical thinking does not and cannot come from science. Science is about is, he said, while ethics is about should.

Communist cultures brooked no dissent. In truth, they perfected the arts of brainwashing and indoctrination. The notion of thinking differently, of entertaining different opinions, was anathema. They wanted to create a culture where everyone thought the same thoughts, believed the same beliefs and felt the same feelings. In the past certain religions aspired to achieve the same goal, but today, those who yearn most avidly for groupthink tend to be atheists.

Today’s masters of political correctness-- dare we note that they are inevitably atheists-- are keeping dogmatism alive. They label differences of opinion as hate speech. They shut down people who hold divergent points of view. 

If you do not think as they think you will be shunned. If you think that this is an anomalous condition, limited to faculty lounges, you should note that in Silicon Valley, in Hollywood and in the San Fernando Valley, saying that you voted for Donald Trump will cost you work. It will make you unemployable. For the record, the San Fernando Valley is the epicenter of the American pornography industry. If you are in porn, you should not to speak well of Trump. Link here. Call it, news you might not want to use.

Some religions have more dogmas than others, but most religions also have widely divergent opinions about nearly all matters, theological and otherwise. Obviously, there are limits. But, a journey through the arcana of theology will show you vast differences of opinion. Thomists and Franciscans and Jesuits are all good Catholics. But, they certainly do not think the same thing.

Now we have a scientific study of the issue. Conducted by scholars from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, the study showed that atheists are, ounce for ounce, more intolerant than the religious.  They are more narrow minded and more incapable of accepting different points of view.

True enough, atheists believe that they are more open minded. Yet, when you poke beneath the surface of the atheist mind, you will someone who is more, not less bigoted than someone who follows a religion.

PsyPost summarizes the results:

New research indicates that religious believers can be better at perceiving and integrating different perspectives than atheists in Western Europe.

“The main message of the study is that closed-mindedness is not necessarily found only among the religious,” the study’s corresponding author, Filip Uzarevic of the Catholic University of Louvain, told PsyPost.

The research was published April 27, 2017, in the peer-reviewed journal Personality and Individual Differences.

“The idea started through noticing that, in public discourse, despite both the conservative/religious groups and liberal/secular groups showing strong animosity towards the opposite ideological side, somehow it was mostly the former who were often labeled as ‘closed-minded’,” Uzarevic explained. “Moreover, such view of the secular being more tolerant and open seemed to be dominant in the psychological literature. Being interested in this topic, we started to discuss whether this is necessarily and always the case: Are the religious indeed generally more closed-minded, or would it perhaps be worthy of investigating the different aspects of closed-mindedness and their relationship with (non)religion. ”

The researchers found that Christian participants scored higher on a measure of dogmatism than nonreligious participants. The Christian participants, for instance, were more likely to disagree with statements such as “There are so many things we have not discovered yet, nobody should be absolutely certain his beliefs are right.”

On one score, Christians seem more narrow-minded. They believe that most truths have already been discovered. Yet, the question feels unnecessarily vague.

Does it refer to moral principles or to scientific fact? One might argue that the moral precepts discovered, say, by Aristotle, Confucius and the Bible have not been significantly modified or superseded over millennia. One might also argue that science is making new discoveries every day; the book of science is certainly not closed.

As the researchers dug deeper they discovered that atheists were more closed-minded than the religious:

Atheists tended to show greater intolerance of contradiction, meaning when they were presented with two seemingly contradictory statements they rated one as very true and the other as very false. They also showed less propensity to be able to imagine arguments contrary to their own position and find them somewhat convincing.

Intriguing, don’t you think?  Atheists are more intolerant of contradictory statements. They are less likely to engage with people who hold different opinions. They prefer to dismiss differing opinions as extreme.

Is there something about atheism that entices people into extreme positions? Is there something about this exercise in pseudo-rationality that deprives people of the ability to think differently? Is there something about  atheism that tends toward the dogmatic and that makes people incapable of considering alternative points of view.

Perhaps they should all take a course in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas. While Catholic theology has room for the Platonist Augustine and the Aristotelian Aquinas— whose views often diverge—today’s atheists reject all dissenting opinions, even those that are based on scientific fact.

To offer some obvious examples, the nature lovers among us, nearly all of whom would reject the least whiff of religious reasoning, will tell you that if you do not accept their view of climate change you are a denier. They will not engage your point of view, or even the point of view of experts like Richard Lindzen. They will dismiss you as an extremist or bigot. And they will accuse you of trying to exterminate the human species. People will die… they will intone.

Any atheist who holds to the dogmatic truths about transgenderism will quickly dismiss the work of eminent physicians like Paul McHugh and Lawrence Mayer as so much bigotry. They refuse to engage with dissenting views. And, since the Bible tells us that God made human beings as man and woman, then God must be a sexist bigot. Again, dissenting or even differing opinions about these articles of today’s secular dogma are not allowed to be contradicted. Atheists brook no dissent.

Is it fair to say that these practitioners of extremism are all atheists? At the least, they believe themselves to be at war with religions and with any other system of moral thinking that contradicts their dogmas.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Are You Man Enough... To Be a Nurse?

This is probably not the most shocking thing you are going to hear today. While male unemployment is high jobs are going unfilled because men do not want to do them. Better yet, their wives do not want them to do the jobs. And those who hire people for the jobs do not want to hire men. Those who do the jobs do not want men as colleagues either. I am talking about care giving jobs, like nurses and home health care workers.

Naturally, Susan Chira attributes it to stereotyping, but does she know better than the men, their wives and their prospective colleagues? At the least, she ought to respect the views of the women who live with these men.

Yet, as Chira presents the case, the feminist vision of male nurses and male home care workers fades into oblivion. Gender interchangeability is just another dumb idea… one that takes permanent leave from reality.

Chira opens:

Traditionally male factory work is drying up. The fastest-growing jobs in the American economy are those that are often held by women. Why not get men to do them?

The problem is that notions of masculinity die hard, in women as well as men. It’s not just that men consider some of the jobs that will be most in demand — in health care, education and administration — to be unmanly or demeaning, or worry that they require emotional skills they don’t have. So do some of their wives, prospective employers and women in these same professions.

Notions of masculinity have developed for reasons that have everything to do with human nature. Why is that so difficult to accept?

A sociology professor who sets her straight:

Ofer Sharone, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has studied middle-aged white-collar professionals who have lost their jobs. He found that some men who might have been willing to consider lower-paid jobs in typically feminine fields encountered resistance from their wives, who urged them to keep looking.

“Marriages have more problems when the man is unemployed than the woman,” Professor Sharone said. “What does it mean for a man to take a low-paying job that’s typically associated with women? What kind of price will they pay with their friends, their lives, their wives, compared to unemployment?”

That may be, he said, because other sociologists have found that while work is important to both men’s and women’s identities, there remains a difference. “Work is at the core of what it means to be a man, in a way that work is not at the core of femininity,” he said.

Clients do not want to hire male caregivers, either. Perhaps they have bathed in the ambient culture, the one that demonizes men as repugnant abusers. Perhaps they understand that men lack the genetic make-up to be good caregivers:

Sherwin Sheik, president and chief executive of CareLinx, which matches caregivers with families, said that many clients remain suspicious of male home health care aides, worried about abuse or sexual predation, and convinced that women will be more caring.

And, of course, women who work in what have traditionally been women’s professions do not want a lot of men around:

Men can also face resistance from their female peers. Jason Mott, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, said some of his male students were teased by their female classmates. “They feel they need to really express their manhood, stressing the athletics they take part in,” he said.

Nursing offers a perplexing case study. In theory, nursing should appeal to men because it pays fairly good wages and is seen as a profession with a defined skill set. Yet just 10 percent of nurses are men, despite “Are You Man Enough … to Be a Nurse?” posters and other efforts to enlist men.

Of course, it’s all a messaging problem. You want to attract men to nursing, you need more posters about how only a man who is man enough can be a nurse. 

Women know better. They are not rushing out to marry male nurses. Men whose manhood has been compromised by such occupations often believe that they need to become more macho than thou, more aggressive and more violent… to assure themselves and their prospective mates that they are really man enough.

If women do not want it, we should respect their views.

Why Relationships Fail

Consider this a footnote on yesterday’s post about “Why Marriages Fail.” You recall that Harvard professor Alexandra Killewald’s research showed that women were more likely to walk away from marriages when men were not breadwinners. That is, when men became the kind of male beings that feminists have told them to become.

Fortuitously, New York Magazine has just written up a case study of a relationship that failed because the man did not make enough money. (via Maggie's Farm)

Carly is 38, with a five year old son. She has her own business and barely makes ends meet. Jackson is 37, without children, but who loves her children. They have a great rapport and great sex. Yet, Jackson has no real ambition and does not make much more than he needs.

Carly said:

 It felt great having a boyfriend. A giant weight was lifted off my shoulders because I had someone to talk to, someone to rely on, someone who fit with me and my son. Plus, the sex was incredible. It was kind of picture perfect, despite the untraditional-ness of it all. I guess the only issue from the very start was that Jackson didn’t have a stable job. He’s a super-talented photographer, but his work was a little unsteady. If I’m being honest, I thought maybe there was family money, and I hoped for that only because it meant I could stay with him forever. I didn’t want to be with someone who couldn’t contribute; I knew that would only lead to resentment. But there wasn’t family money …

He was not going to be a breadwinner. End of relationship.

To be fair and balanced, Jackson offered his own viewpoint:

I didn’t make the kind of money she wanted me to, which bothered her way more than me. I feel like I’m lucky that I have a rent-stabilized apartment and work that I enjoy. In my eyes, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t provide for her or her son. Love, affection, adventure. I was devoted. Dollar signs weren’t a thing as far as I was concerned.

Carly’s response:

It started to annoy me, big time, how little he worked, how rarely he thought about money or ambition. He’d do the littlest thing, like maybe smoke a joint with my friends, and I’d just boil over inside. Like, “You fucking stoner deadbeat!” Meanwhile, all my friends were also smoking and I’d be like, “Cool, love you guys.” But I was conflicted — he and my son had gotten so close and there was so much I loved about Jackson too.

But, Jackson has work/life balance:

She wanted to change this very innate quality about me, which is that I’m not driven by money. I’m not materialistic. I don’t need fancy things. I just need good people, creativity, inspiration, honesty, a beautiful woman, a cold beer on my front stoop …

I would have done anything to make it work, except get a terrible, soul-crushing job. And that was the only thing she ever wanted me to do. It got real ugly. She’d yell at me about everything. I went from this man she wanted to raise a child with to someone who couldn’t do anything right.

Carly saw it as “the Urban Cowboy thing” and she refused to make it a part of her life. As opposed to what we read in therapy columns, this account shows a good dose of responsible adult reasoning. 

"Another Soul-Sucking Disappointment"

Democrats thought they had it won. They were convinced that they would win Tom Price’s Congressional seat in the Georgia runoff election last week. They were wrong. They lost. Now is the time for soul-searching. Because, if Democrats are good at anything, it’s soul searching.

While not the first to weigh in, Maureen Dowd has gotten her groove back in today’s column:

The Democrats just got skunked four to nothing in races they excitedly thought they could win because everyone they hang with hates Trump.

If Trump is the Antichrist, as they believe, then Georgia was going to be a cakewalk, and Nancy Pelosi was going to be installed as speaker before the midterms by acclamation. But it turned into another soul-sucking disappointment.

I’m not so sure what the Antichrist has to do with cakewalks—shifting narratives—but Democrats were persuaded that young attractive centrist Jon Ossoff would easily beat Karen Handel. He didn’t. He didn't even live in the district.

Dowd contacted Rahm Emanuel, to learn how to win elections:

“We congenitally believe that our motives are pure and our goals are right,” Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, told me. “Therefore, we should win by default.” But, he added dryly: “You’ve got to run a good campaign. In elections, politics matter. Oooh, what a surprise.”

Apparently, Rahm has forgotten the other rule of politics: when you have power you have to govern effectively. The man presiding over the killing fields of Chicago, within a state that has been bankrupted by years of Democratic governance, does not serve as a role model for effective governance.

If Democrats do not think that it matters, they are living in their own fairy tale. Dowd explains it well:

Democrats cling to an idyllic version of a new progressive America where everyone tools around in electric cars, serenely uses gender-neutral bathrooms and happily searches the web for the best Obamacare options. In the Democrats’ vision, people are doing great and getting along. It is the opposite of Trump’s dark diorama of carnage and dystopia — but just as false a picture of America.

True enough, there is enough dystopia in districts that voted for Donald Trump. That’s why they voted for Donald Trump. But, if you are looking for a real dystopia, put Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago on your itinerary.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Self-Sabotage

Again, the letter the frustrated woman writes to therapist Lori Gottlieb is far more interesting than anything Gottlieb has to say. 

As often happens in these letters, we are deprived of most relevant information, condition that makes up prey to Gottlieb’s efforts to shoehorn the woman’s life into a psycho narrative. And thus, to ignore the woman's question?

For your edification, I provide the letter written by a woman who calls herself Frustrated:

I am divorced with two kids, and trying to date in the age of “swiping.” It’s hard. But for the first time in years I fell for someone … hard. The feelings had been intense from the beginning but also very recognizably mutual. All the basics you could hope to check off in the list of desirable dating traits were checked. Prior to this guy I had “dated” guys that would really just consist of a month or so of texting with about three dates total. None of them ignited an emotional connection like this last guy. But with the other guys, I could always tell when the guy was about to call it quits. I learn people and read people’s behaviors so I can tell when something is off and the level of interest has dissolved. My gut has never failed me when it comes to this stuff.

With the most recent guy, I started getting a bad feeling about a friend that he used to date, but he swore they were just buddies. He was forthcoming about his friendship with this girl, but I found it very strange that he would talk all the time to this person and hang out quite frequently. It made me uneasy. I have severe trust issues. He knew this. And he put a lot of effort into reassuring me that there’s nothing going on between them. I tried very hard to trust him. I wanted to trust him.

But I couldn’t shake my suspicions about their friendship. And so I became (secretly) obsessive about trying to figure out if they’re hanging out and how often they’re talking.  It was like I knew deep down that maybe there was unfinished business between them and I was looking for any evidence to prove myself right.  It caused me so much stress and anxiety. There very well could have been nothing going on, but my gut was telling me otherwise.  I had that feeling you just can’t shake that something isn’t adding up.  I think ultimately he sensed that this would probably be an ongoing issue, so he ended things stating that feelings weren’t mutual, which is contradictory to everything he had been saying to me and how he treated me until that moment he broke up with me. 

I think my biggest concern is that I don’t know how to get over the urge to read into everything to “prove myself right” when I think I’m being wronged.  It worries me that I will self-sabotage any future relationship.

We are all impressed to see that Frustrated has already bought the psycho narrative about self-sabotage. Apparently, she has already had some experience of therapy and has learned to blame it all on herself, on her tendency to self-sabotage.

We will note, for the record, that we do not know how old she is, how old her children are, what she does for a living, how old her paramour was, whether or not he had children and what he did for a living. We do not know what she brings to a relationship and what the man in question was bringing. Without knowing any of this we are flying blind. It does not bother Gottlieb, who flings a blizzard of psychobabble about self-sabotage. 

Again, by the terms of the letter we are not dealing with a human being who has a life. Nevertheless we ought to respect her question and address it directly. 

Frustrated was dating a man and became suspicious of his relationship with an ex--. The man was open and upfront about the ex--. He talked with her all the time and told Frustrated about her all the time. So, Frustrated became suspicious. Her instincts told her that something was off, that he was not over his ex--.  Would any sensible adult have drawn a different conclusion?

True enough, Frustrated says, nothing might have been going on, but her “gut” told her otherwise. I am not a fan of going with your gut, but I confess that I respect her intuition. We do not know whether her ex— and his ex— were making the beast with two backs, but that is not the point. The man was obviously unavailable. He might have been pining away for his ex--. His ex—might have been married or engaged. She might have rejected him. At the least, he was not fully engaged in his relationship with Frustrated. His level of commitment was not the same as hers. To anyone who is not a therapist, this is almost self-evident.

For all we know, his distance might have had nothing to do with Frustrated. Since we do not know whether he was married or not, whether he had children or not, how old he was, what he did for a living, we cannot judge whether he had other reasons for his distance.

On one point I do agree with Gottlieb. We would like it if Frustrated trusted her instincts. Failed relationships, relationship traumas will certainly undermine one's ability to trust and one's reliance on instinct. Under the circumstances it’s best to consult someone who is more objective. She would do better to indulge in endless bouts of introspection or exercises in overpriced storytelling. She ought to learn how to look at the situation objectively, with all relevant facts in hand. This will tell her whether she is judging the situation correctly or is distorting it. Of course, being suspicious seems perfectly reasonable here. It tells us that she is not willing to rely solely on her gut.

In this case, I think that Frustrated was right. I think that her suspicions were giving her a sense of the reality of the situation. As a rule, women have very good intuitions about such matters. But, how does it happen that a female therapist does not respect Frustrated’s intuition, her take on the situation? It’s a sad state of affairs when a woman, pretending to offer therapy, disrespects another woman.


Why Do Marriages Fail?

Why do marriages break up? Does it have anything to do with shifting gender roles? Are other economic variables playing a decisive role?

Last year Harvard sociology professor, Alexandra Killewald, published an important study on the topic. It has been reported by Jon Miltimore at the Intellectual Takeout blog (via Maggie’s Farm.)

Killewald considered three options:

A core unresolved question is how trends in marital stability relate to changing family and economic circumstances. Have wives’ greater earnings power and work experience increased divorce by reducing the costs of exiting bad marriages? Are strained household finances associated with heightened risk of divorce? Or do spouses’ work and earnings patterns alter marital stability by conveying signals about whether each partner is fulfilling the implicit, symbolic, gendered terms of the marital contract?

Are more people getting divorced because it’s cheap and available? Or do they opt out of marriage because of financial strains? Apparently not. The most significant factor was that men had not fulfilled their roles as breadwinners. You will note, as we all do, that this role has supposedly been rendered obsolete by women’s liberation. And yet, apparently, a man’s failure to support his family will lead even liberated of wives to seek a divorce. Or perhaps a man who is not a breadwinner will be more likely to stray. 

Killewald explains:

…the strongest evidence for the gendered institution perspective is that, for marriages begun in 1975 or later, divorce is more likely when husbands are not employed full-time. Consistent with my hypotheses, there is no evidence that this association is weaker for later than earlier marriage cohorts. Just as male breadwinning has remained important for marriage formation (Sweeney 2002), the results here demonstrate its enduring importance for marital stability. The results are consistent with claims that bread-winning remains a central component of the marital contract for husbands (Nock 1998).

Many feminists will respond that it just shows how entrenched sexism is. Other, more rational folk, will conclude that people who ignored traditional roles paid a price for it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Trump to Xi: Toughen Up!

No sensible adult is going to defend all of Donald Trump’s tweets. Yet, no sensible adult should reject them all out of hand.

Case in point: Trump’s tweet regarding China and North Korea. Isobel Thompson at Vanity Fair calls it mystifying. It is anything but.

Following the death of Otto Warmbier, Trump tweeted this:

While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

This tells us that Trump asked China’s president Xi for help in dealing with North Korea. And it says that the Chinese president agreed to do so. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a diplomatic solution to the problem with North Korea. It  beats the alternatives. Surely, it is more diplomatic than making threats. 

Now, Trump is saying that President Xi may have oversold his ability to influence the regime in Pyongyang. The subtle and ironic jab at China, wrapped in compliments, suggests that if the Chinese expect more from America they will need to do better with North Korea. After all, the whole world is watching. That is what it means to send the message via tweet instead of via back channels.

If China wants to be recognized as a world leader, it should honor its commitments and deal with its vassal states. Your move, President Xi.

Trump is not telling Xi what to do. He is not condemning him. He is saying that China’s president is embarrassing himself on the world stage, looking weak next to North Korea, and that Trump hopes that he can do better.

Thus, Trump is leaving Xi a way to save face and is putting Xi on notice that he expects more than a good effort. The tweet is sophisticated, diplomatic and subtle… apparently too subtle for many observers. Don't these readers understand irony?