The Religion of Environmentalism

I’m not sure if I read this piece by Michael Chrichton before or not, but listening to a friend of mine who is very definitely an environmentalist, I noticed how she seemed to believe in a Fall From Grace story. At one time in the past, the environment was in a perfect state. And then humans came along and started making changes, and every change humans make is, by definition, for the worse. (She did not receive that well.)

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Environmentalism is a Religion — Michael Crichton

So what about it?

There are two reasons why I think we all need to get rid of the religion of environmentalism.
First, we need an environmental movement, and such a movement is not very effective if it is conducted as a religion. We know from history that religions tend to kill people, and environmentalism has already killed somewhere between 10-30 million people since the 1970s. It’s not a good record. Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical. To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth—that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric. The effort to promote effective legislation for the environment is not helped by thinking that the Democrats will save us and the Republicans won’t. Political history is more complicated than that. Never forget which president started the EPA: Richard Nixon. And never forget which president sold federal oil leases, allowing oil drilling in Santa Barbara: Lyndon Johnson. So get politics out of your thinking about the environment.
The second reason to abandon environmental religion is more pressing. Religions think they know it all, but the unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge. Our record in the past, for example managing national parks, is humiliating. Our fifty-year effort at forest-fire suppression is a well-intentioned disaster from which our forests will never recover. We need to be humble, deeply humble, in the face of what we are trying to accomplish. We need to be trying various methods of accomplishing things. We need to be open-minded about assessing results of our efforts, and we need to be flexible about balancing needs. Religions are good at none of these things.

ibid

Time to punish those who bring false accusations

Article at The Independent Institute

Under Jewish law, they not only had a commandment saying “do not bear false witness”, they had a penalty for doing so. Under that law, the penalty for perjury was the perjurer would receive the same sentence the accused would have received had the false testimony been believed.

So the women proven to have made false accusations of rape should serve the same sentence handed down to convicted rapists, including having to register as a sex offender, stay away from schools, stay off the Internet, and so on. Forever. At least until we change the laws on rape.

With the Best of Intentions, of Course!

It seems that white progressives talk down to Blacks, as if adjusting for a presumed lower level of comprehension.


According to new research by Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM, white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges. The study is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Yale Insights


Dupree and her co-author, Susan Fiske of Princeton University, began by analyzing the words used in campaign speeches delivered by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to different audiences over the years. They scanned 74 speeches delivered by white candidates over a 25-year period. Approximately half were addressed to mostly-minority audiences—at a Hispanic small business roundtable discussion or a black church, for example. They then paired each speech delivered to a mostly-minority audience with a comparable speech delivered at a mostly-white audience—at a mostly-white church or university, for example. The researchers analyzed the text of these speeches for two measures: words related to competence (that is, words about ability or status, such as “assertive” or “competitive”) and words related to warmth (that is, words about friendliness, such as “supportive” and “compassionate”). 
Warmth, related to intentions towards others, and competence, related to the ability to carry out those intentions, are two fundamental dimensions of how we see others and portray ourselves in social interactions. Stereotypical portrayals of black Americans generally show them as being less competent than their white counterparts, but not necessarily less friendly or warm, Dupree explains.
The team found that Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences. The difference wasn’t statistically significant in speeches by Republican candidates, though “it was harder to find speeches from Republicans delivered to minority audiences,” Dupree notes. There was no difference in Democrats’ or Republicans’ usage of words related to warmth. “It was really surprising to see that for nearly three decades, Democratic presidential candidates have been engaging in this predicted behavior.” 


Dupree and Fiske suspect that the behavior stems from a liberal person’s desire to connect with other races. One possible reason for the “competence downshift,” as the authors describe it, is that, regardless of race, people tend to downplay their competence when they want to appear likeable and friendly. But it’s also possible that “this is happening because people are using common stereotypes in an effort to get along,” Dupree says.
Initial data from follow-up studies suggest that describing a black person as highly intelligent, thus reversing the stereotype, or as already highly motivated to get along with whites, thus removing the need to prove goodwill, can reduce the likelihood that a white person will downplay their competence in their interactions with the black person.

Check Your Privilege

There is privilege in the world, but if you’re concentrating on skin color, you may be missing it.


Consider two Americans. One is named Mike. Mike is a straight white Christian male from a decaying industrial city in Ohio or Michigan. He never knew his father. His mother is hooked on painkillers. His home life isn’t great. Mom’s various boyfriends enjoy smacking him in the face. He gets passed around to a variety of family members. He gets into drugs early. Crime too. He drifts around high school and doesn’t graduate. He has no skills and no prospects.

The other American is Malia Obama.

Who has the privilege here? Which one of these citizens is going to have an easier time getting a potential employer on the phone? Who is more likely to find a suitable spouse? Which one of these people is going to have problems getting a mortgage? Who is going to have a better life?

The answer is obviously Mike. All Mike needs to do is present his “white privilege” card to Goldman Sachs, or the Walt Disney Company, or the United States Senate, and all doors will open, because white people like Mike are royalty. Mike will immediately be ushered to a velvet-upholstered throne and be instructed in how to fulfill his duties as a natural-born member of the country’s elite class.

Ah, the Left will protest, but Malia Obama is unique. There is only one of her. Well, two of her. Sort of. But anyway, blacks on average face more challenges than whites in the United States. Yes, but averages don’t tell us much about the lot of any individual. Happiness and success have much to do with personal circumstances — growing up in a stable, loving family; a good education; a strong work ethic. Having two parents who are able to get literally anyone in the world on the phone could help. Having no reliable parents could hurt. Race isn’t the ultimate or anywhere near the leading determinant of how your life turns out, and it’s sloppy to imply otherwise. Yet race determinism is everywhere, and if anything it seems to be growing in popularity.

Race determinism long ago became beloved by the far left but these days even moderates such as Clinton-administration official–turned–CNN pundit Kirsten Powers embrace it. Powers decreed that dislike for Hillary Clinton was no excuse for voting for Donald Trump. “They’ll say, ‘Well, I’m not racist. I just voted for him because I didn’t like Hillary Clinton.’ And I just want to say that’s not — that doesn’t make you not racist. It actually makes you racist.” Powers is hardly alone in this kind of thinking — the New York Times’ new editorial-board member, Sarah Jeong, tweeted, less than three months before she was hired, “‘I am not a racist’ is now a surefire confirmation of racism.” Jeong is a graduate of Harvard Law School. “The heartbeat of racism is denial,” ran the title of a Times column by Ibram X. Kendi, who claimed that President Trump’s assertions that he was not a racist constituted “ugly denials.” Kendi didn’t say these were ugly lies; the mere denying is ugly.

Like alcoholism or homosexuality back in the day, and witchcraft or Communist-party loyalty before that, racism is an unfalsifiable accusation. By denying it you merely make your accusers giggle. Your only hope is to confess and ingratiate yourself with the court by identifying other wrongdoers. Identifying lots of other wrongdoers is your best bet.

When Powers’s CNN remark ran into disbelief and mockery on Twitter, she redoubled her efforts to demonstrate that her thinking had degenerated to the confused-undergraduate level:

Kirsten Powers
@KirstenPowers
For those upset abt my comments about racism+Trump supporters, I also said that ALL white ppl (not just Trump supporters) need to examine their own racist assumptions/white privilege that are the result of living in a society that privileges white people. That includes me.

If “ALL” white people are beset by “racist assumptions,” then all white people are racist. All white people are therefore horrible. There’s a word for casting aspersions on people for the sole reason that they belong to a particular race; it’ll come to me in a moment . . .


The ‘White Privilege’ Canard

Understanding Victim Culture

Understanding Victim Culture, on Quillette, recommended by Greg Benford.


The three moral cultures are different clusters of traits having to do with what people find offensive and how they handle their grievances.
In dignity cultures, there is a low sensitivity to slight. People are more tolerant of insult and disagreement. Children might be taught some variant of “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It’s good to have “thick skin,” and people might be criticized for being too touchy and overreacting to slights. If the issue in the conflict is something more than a slight or insult — say, a violent assault — you’re to handle the matter through appeal to authorities such as the legal system. Taking the law into your own hands with violent vengeance is itself a serious crime and generally looked down upon.
In honor cultures, there’s a much greater sensitivity to slight. Insults demand a serious response, and even accidental slights might provoke severe conflict. Having a low tolerance for offense is more likely to be seen as a virtue than a vice. Letting yourself be slighted without seeking justice is shameful. And seeking justice is more likely to take the form of violent vengeance. Appealing to authorities is more stigmatized than taking matters into your own hands.
These two kinds of cultures emphasize different sources of moral status or worth. Honor is one’s status in the eyes of other people. It depends on reputation. And while a lot of things might go into making this reputation, the core of classical honor is physical bravery. Tolerating slights is shameful because you let someone put you down without defending your reputation by force. It suggests cowardice. Appealing to the authorities is shameful for the same reason. Virtue means being bold and forceful, aggressively defending your reputation against any challenges, and being vigilant for signs that someone else is probing you for weakness.
Dignity is a kind of inherent and inalienable moral worth. It doesn’t depend on your standing in the eyes of other people. A dignity culture emphasizes that all people have this sort of worth, which can’t be taken away. It’s why an insult can’t devalue you. If anything, overreacting to an offense is unseemly because it suggests you’re not confident in your worth and need to take other people’s opinions so seriously. Virtue isn’t being bold, touchy, and aggressive, but restrained, prudent, and quietly self-assured.
What we call victimhood culture combines some aspects of honor and dignity. People in a victimhood culture are like the honorable in having a high sensitivity to slight. They’re quite touchy, and always vigilant for offenses. Insults are serious business, and even unintentional slights might provoke a severe conflict. But, as in a dignity culture, people generally eschew violent vengeance in favor of relying on some authority figure or other third party. They complain to the law, to the human resources department at their corporation, to the administration at their university, or — possibly as a strategy of getting attention from one of the former — to the public at large.
The combination of high sensitivity with dependence on others encourages people to emphasize or exaggerate the severity of offenses. There’s a corresponding tendency to emphasize one’s degree of victimization, one’s vulnerability to harm, and one’s need for assistance and protection. People who air grievances are likely to appeal to such concepts as disadvantage, marginality, or trauma, while casting the conflict as a matter of oppression.

Maybe it’s a problem with Four-Letter Agencies

Reason Magazine says the ACLU has become “a liberal organization with an interest in civil liberties”.

First, the ACLU ran an anti-Brett Kavanaugh video ad that relied entirely on something that no committed civil libertarian would countenance, guilt by association. And not just guilt by association, but guilt by association with individuals that Kavanaugh wasn’t actually associated with in any way, except that they were all men who like Kavanaugh had been accused of serious sexual misconduct. The literal point of the ad is that Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby were accused of sexual misconduct, they denied it but were actually guilty; therefore, Brett Kavanaugh, also having been accused of sexual misconduct, and also having denied it, is likely guilty too.

Can you imagine back in the 1950s the ACLU running an ad with the theme, “Earl Warren has been accused of being a Communist. He denies it. But Alger Hiss and and Julius Rosenberg were also accused of being Communists, they denied it, but they were lying. So Earl Warren is likely lying, too?”

Meanwhile, yesterday, the Department of Education released a proposed new Title IX regulation that provides for due process rights for accused students that had been prohibited by Obama-era guidance. Shockingly, even to those of us who have followed the ACLU’s long, slow decline, the ACLU tweeted in reponse that the proposed regulation “promotes an unfair process, inappropriately favoring the accused.” Even longtime ACLU critics are choking on the ACLU, of all organizations, claiming that due proess protections “inappropriately favor the accuse.”

 

Race, violence, and prejudice

Clayton Cramer fielded a question from a journalist regarding the perceived increase in police shootings of armed black men.

I’ll send over a few questions if that okay with you… I really want to capture the increased incident of police and armed black men. Activist seem to believe there is racism at the core of these incidents.1. What was your response to the shooting of Jemel Roberson two days ago?

I confess that I missed this. The police officer clearly reacted too quickly and wrongly.

2. Do you believe racism is something that is a factor in these shootings?

I think it is important to distinguish between racism and prejudice. A racist would assume that a different race is intrinsically different or inferior, and often that is expressed as hatred. Many people have prejudices based on race, sex, or other identities that may not be associated with hate. There are times that those prejudices may have a rational basis when applied to unknown members of that group. Let me give you an example.

This is a pretty important point. In another discussion elsewhere with someone else, I felt the need to distinguish between “racial” distinctions and “racist” distinctions. Allocating more funds to treat sickle cell trait in largely black areas than elsewhere is a racial distinction, but not a racist one.

Many years ago, I was walking home from college on a pedestrian path that was pretty isolated. There was a 10 foot high concrete wall on one side, and a chain link fence with a stream and forest on the other. Ahead of me about 50 yards was a young woman also walking away from campus. There was no one else around. Because I was a bit taller than her, I was slowly gaining on her as I walked this path. After a couple minutes, I realized that she had increased her pace; soon, she was almost running.

My first reaction was, “Why is she afraid of me? I am a nice person; I will not hurt her. Is it just because I’m a man?” The answer, I am sure, was Yes. Nasty prejudice. But a rational prejudice. She did not know me. Effectively all rapists are men. That means that men are 2x as likely to be rapists as people in general: unknown men are a disproportionate risk. Few men are rapists; there were 124,000 rapes in America in 2015 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/table-1) in a nation of 160 million men, and because rapists are usually serial offenders, there are probably far less than 124,000 men who are rapists.

What if she assumes the worst about a man, and he is harmless (like me)? She gets a bit of a cardio workout from trying to get away. What if she assumes a man is harmless and he is a rapist? The consequences may be quite severe. So her reaction qualifies as a rational reaction to her prejudice.

Hate crimes against Jews up during Trump administration, but…

Source: Hot Air.

Today the NY Times published a piece today highlighting the fact that half of all hate-crimes in cosmopolitan, progressive New York this year are Anti-Semitic in nature. Furthermore, the piece delicately points out that the perpetrators of these crimes aren’t white supremacists.

Contrary to what are surely the prevailing assumptions, anti-Semitic incidents have constituted half of all hate crimes in New York this year, according to the Police Department. To put that figure in context, there have been four times as many crimes motivated by bias against Jews — 142 in all — as there have against blacks. Hate crimes against Jews have outnumbered hate crimes targeted at transgender people by a factor of 20.

[snip]

If anti-Semitism bypasses consideration as a serious problem in New York, it is to some extent because it refuses to conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy. During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group, Mark Molinari, commanding officer of the police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, told me.

 

 

Mass Shootings

John Lott has a report on mass shootings. A minority have any definite religious or political message. (Hat tip, hotair.com)

Based on this chart:

Religion: 68% have no mention of religion.

Of those with religion mentioned, 10% are Muslim.

The sum of all Christian denominations is 9%.

Buddhist, of all things, make up 1%.

Politics: 72% have no mention of politics.

Islamic extremism accounts for 10%.

“Conservative” and “Right-wing” each account for 3%, for a total of 6%.

“Liberal” and “Left-wing” account for 4%. So mass shootings due to Islamic extremism are equal to the mass shootings due to the political Left and Right, combined.

Somehow, we’re probably to infer from this that Muslims are being unfairly targeted or something.