I am often horrified by the easy assumption of moral superiority made by people on the green/left side of politics.
It is as if they are so sure that they are intellectually and morally superior that it never occurs to them that they should actually check what the people they think they disagree with are actually saying, or planning, and why.
They live in a kind of bubble, where they only listen to one another. I guess they just think other people are stupid, or ignorant, or motivated by fear, or just evil, so why bother listening to them or trying find out why they think the way they do?
But Christians especially should resist this temptation to judge others, and to attribute evil motives to others, even politicians!
Most politicians, even those I disagree with, are decent people who want to make the world a better place. I wish some of them were better informed, or would work at implementing policies which actually work, instead those they simply think should work. But most of them are still good people.
This is a worthwhile thought: We are all capable of good and bad. To see or assume only the bad is cynicism; it is not fully human; and it is a condition of mind which the Christian is thus called to resist.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio briefly flickered through my mind as I was considering who might be elected Pope, but quickly flickered out again. He flickered in because of persistent rumours that he was runner–up in the Conclave that elected Pope Benedict. But the rumours were doubtful, while the factors weighing against him seemed decisive.
There were three.
Firstly, at 76, he is at the upper limit of what might be considered a likely age. Too old, I thought.
Second, he is a Jesuit. There has never before been a Jesuit Pope. That in itself is not a negative factor, but the recent behaviour of some Jesuits is. In the past the Society of Jesus has produced some of the Church’s greatest thinkers and missionaries. In recent years, in the Australia and the US at least, it has declined into a kind of PC knitting circle.
If you are not sure what I mean, pay a visit to the Jesuit website eurekastreet.com.au. You might as well be reading Crikey!, or the Melbourne Anglican. Just as with those outlets, you know in advance that the position taken on any social or political issue will be that of the Labor left/Greens. An organisation that offers an encomium on the virtues of Hugo Chavez, and quotes Bertolt Brecht while doing so, has lost any capacity for rational thought.
The Jesuits in South America may be different, but while a cardinal, Pope Francis made some worrying comments about the redistribution of wealth, comments which resemble the inane demands that people who have taken risks and worked hard all their lives to produce value for others have an obligation to ‘give something back’ to people who haven’t. Popes are not infallible on matters of economics, but they may be influential.
The third and decisive factor was that he has no experience in Rome. It seemed unlikely that someone would be elected as Bishop of Rome who has little familiarity with the city and its people. Even more important, given the wide publicity given to claims of a need to reform the Curia, it seemed unlikely that someone would be elected who has no detailed knowledge of the Curia and its functions. If there really is a need for reform, Pope Francis will be in the position of having to rely for advice on the very people in need of reformation.
Having said all that, it is important to point out that Pope Francis has a wider educational background than most of his predecessors; he has a Master’s degree in chemistry, and has taught psychology and literature. He has a reputation for prayerful faithfulness and unpretentious care for others. He has resisted the temptation to lapse into the cesspool of liberation theology, and has been courageous in his opposition to some of the policies and pronouncements of Argentina’s obstreperous leftist government. For example, a few months after current Argentinian President Kristina Kirchner’s husband (her predecessor) was elected in 2003, then Cardinal Bergoglio pointed out the damage done by the “exhibitionism and strident announcements” that had come to characterise Argentinian politics.
All this suggests intelligence, humility, strength and common sense.
Maybe the cardinals know better than me after all.
My latest for Quadrant Online:
One of the most interesting phenomena of the last weeks has been the enthusiasm with which media pundits who have previously expressed the opinion that the Church is dying and irrelevant have expounded upon the importance of the right person being elected to be the new Pope. Like liberal nuns and other anti-Catholics, most of these media persons (I decline to call them personalities) believe the world would be a much better place if someone was elected who had the same opinions they do.
Alas for them, it is likely, as Philippa Martyr has pointed out in her usual delightful style, that the next Pope will be a Catholic. Which means no gay marriage, no women priests, no abortions.
Going to Mass, trusting in Jesus, reading the Bible and the whole religious thing will still be a large part of what the Church is about. It might be interesting to spend some time talking about whether it is possible to identify exactly where any culture is less than healthy, by noting at which points its demands conflict with the teaching and practice of the Church. In our case, I suspect, in the areas of gender, sexuality, and ‘self-realisation.’ But instead I’ll stick with wondering who the next Pope might be.
We start with a potential field of all unmarried baptised adult male Catholics. Betting website paddypower.com offers odds of 666 to 1 on Richard Dawkins. You can also bet on Fr. Ted at 1,000 to 1 if you are absolutely determined to lose your money.
Read the rest at Quadrant.
One of four.
Andrew Wakefield and the faked link between MMR vaccinations and autism.
Andrew Wakefield is one of the heroes of the anti-vaccination crusaders. In 1998 prestigious British medical journal The Lancet published a paper by Wakefield and others which implied a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination. Not only was there no such link, but Wakefield’s data was faked. The article was retracted by The Lancet on February 2, 2010.
Wakefield must have known the likelihood that his faked research would reduce vaccination rates and lead to increased levels of preventable infectious childhood diseases. That is, he must have known than faking data so as to suggest a link between MMR vaccinations and autism would lead to increased child deaths.
Whatever Andrew Wakefield is, he is no hero of child health.
Apart from faking the results, there were several other ethics violations. These included failing to disclose cash payments from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR caused their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, and the use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
On January 28, 2010, Wakefield and two of his co-authors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, were found by the UK’s General Medical Council to have acted irresponsibly, dishonestly and not in the clinical interests of the children involved in the study. The Medial Council found, amongst other things, that Wakefield had used colonoscopies, MRIs and lumbar punctures when such procedures were not clinically indicated. On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield and Walker-Smith were guilty of professional misconduct and should be struck from the Medical Register in the U.K. His license to practice medicine has been revoked.
There is no moral difference between this faking of medical research with foreseeably lethal consequences, and adding Melamine (a poison) to milk with foreseeably lethal consequences.
Some supporters of the MMR/autism theory claim that just because a few bad apples faked their results doesn’t necessarily mean there is no connection between vaccination and autism. No it doesn’t. But there isn’t. Not a speck. Not a jot nor a tittle.
In the next few days I will explain exactly how scientists know this. I’ll also examine the story that when Japan stopped vaccinating children, SIDS (cot death) stopped completely. It didn’t.
Ninety per-cent of Facebook and Twitter causes are based on false information, bigotry or both.
From scare stories about preservatives in food, to stories of dogs being hooked alive and used as shark bait, to stories about how people who don’t look like us eat something we don’t like eating and it’s disgusting and they are horrible and it should be stopped, almost every “Please pass this on, this must be stopped” story turns out to be based on false or misleading information, or cultural bigotry so blatant that it verges on racism.
These campaigns have real consequences. A campaign against the use of lean beef trimmings was bulldust from beginning to end. But the facts fell before a tidal wave of disgusting pictures of pink slime, and assertions the slime was loaded with ammonia and other deadly chemicals used as preservatives. None of the slimy pictures had anything to do with lean beef trimmings, and claims about high levels of preservatives were false.
It didn’t matter. The US beef industry responded with factual information, photos of the real product and descriptions of production methods. No one cared. Lean beef trimmings are high in protein, reduce the overall fat content of burgers and other meat products to which they are added, and in blind taste tests, were found by a majority of people to improve the tenderness of processed meats. It didn’t matter. The facts had no weight compared to the emotional fervour and manufactured horror of the pink slime campaign.
The end result was that factories were closed, businesses were forced into bankruptcy, hundreds of workers lost their jobs, and hundreds of families their incomes.
It may feel like you are doing a good thing when you click ‘Like’ to some circulating campaign against something, or pass it on to your friends. But when ninety per-cent of such campaigns are simply wrong, then clicking ‘Like’ or passing it on is not good, or even morally neutral. It is wrong.
At very least, we should check, every time, that what we are being told is true. Look for opinions opposed to those expressed in the message. Ask yourself “Is this reasonable?” “Is it really likely to be true?” Even if it is true, local governments may have the matter in hand, and demands for action in a Twitter campaign may be counter-productive or insulting.
Don’t pass on alarm stories without checking first, and if you have any doubts about the accuracy or fairness of a story, don’t pass it on at all. The truth matters. Don’t be a party to lies.
There is a point, though, at which the merely lazy, ignorant or bigoted nature of most Facebook campaigns tips over into actual evil. This point is the ongoing campaign against vaccination, and especially vaccination against childhood diseases such as measles and polio.
Over the next week I will write four articles explaining why this opposition is based on false, and in some cases deliberately false or misleading information. I will explain why the campaign is not just misguided but evil. And I will explain what you can do to help the truth be heard.
Green activists are once again turning Japan’s annual dolphin hunt to their financial advantage, deep-sixing facts in favour of fund-raising propaganda. Sure, the slaughter at Taiji Cove is not for the squeamish, but neither is any Australian abattoir …
Lies, damned lies and dolphins
Villagers in Taiji in Japan are halfway through their annual dolphin harvest, which runs from September to May. Villagers in Australia are halfway through their annual feeding frenzy of self-righteous indignation. Twitter accounts gurgle with rage. Facebook pages quiver with fury. Post after post proclaims the Japanese to be vile, murderous, and deserving of the same fate as the dolphins.
There are clear emotional benefits to participating slacktivists. A scrumptious sense of moral superiority. The feeling of purpose that flows from with aligning oneself with a righteous cause. Being part of a community of like-minded believers.
But the hunt continues. The Japanese are disinclined to change their behaviour on the basis of what they see as the petulant posturing of a group of ignorant, hypocritical, glory seekers.
Read the rest at Quadrant Online.
My latest article for Quadrant Online:
I am not sure whether Steve Kates is simply being curmudgeonly in his review of the film of the musical Les Miserables, or really does believe it to be “a two hour and 40 minute indulgence in the worst kind of socialist idiocies.” If the latter, he is wrong.
The film has several faults. Chief among them is Russell Crowe, who employs a single facial expression throughout; surly. He does surly very well, but one expression is not enough to cover the complicated character of Inspector Javert, who struggled with the same questions as Valjean but chose differently. Also, Crowe can’t sing, or certainly not well enough to convey convincingly the drama of Javert’s righteous conviction, or at the end, his inner struggle.
Hugh Jackman, by way of contrast, employs three facial expressions; happy, sad and troubled. Troubled also covers angry. Three expressions in a single movie prove that he is an actor of great depth, so it is likely he will win a Golden Globe in 2013, or perhaps some other plastic statue.
The real surprise was Anne Hathaway, whom I have always dismissed as an airhead. Her depiction of Fantine creates some genuinely moving moments in a film otherwise painted in lavish strokes of mere sentimentality.
Read the rest at Quadrant Online.
That is, dear persons trying to hack into this blog.
You won’t succeed.
And even if by some miracle you do, this blog is completely backed up every night.
Whatever changes you make may last an hour, or however long it takes before I notice them.
Then I will simply wipe what you have done, re-install, and put in a new, even tougher username and password.
You have probably already spent several hours on this, but it would take only half an hour to fix.
I suggest you find a more productive use for your time. Losers.
I don’t know what else to call it.
Someone, I assumed the dimwits behind the ESL – Eurosoft ripoffs, but I am not sure, signed me up for a casual sex dating site called rudefinder.
When I got the welcome email I went to the site to see what it was. Cor!
For a start, there is page after page of young ladies, many of them in the most absurd poses, showing off their naughty bits.
Maybe it is just me, but surely the normal reaction to seeing someone with her legs in the air, using her fingers to spread her vulva so her vagina and anus are exposed, is one of revulsion. I cannot imagine why you would find photos like that of someone you do not know attractive or interesting.
Unless you are simply an animal (ie, you believe the lie that “You and me baby we ain’t nothing but mammals”), the whole point of a sexual relationship is the complete, open, trusting sharing of yourself with another person, with openness to the possibility of new life. To my mind, this can only take place in the context of marriage. Sex in any other context is always and necessarily less than it should be, and ultimately harmful to those who participate in it.
It was plain within about ten seconds that rudefinder was a scam. Amongst the first few ladies listed as possible matches for me were about twenty who claimed to live in Muston. Muston is a tiny settlement of about fifteen people, most of whom I know. Others were listed in places such as Haines and Kangaroo Head, often with claims that they enjoyed going to clubs or bars in those localities. But those places are simply rural areas with small populations and no townships whatever, the closest thing to a club being a fencepost where some of the locals gather from time to time for a chat.
Curious, I uploaded to my profile a couple of photos which I copied from another website, and sent a message to about twenty of these purported young ladies, saying I was interested, and inviting them to message me back. A few of them had already messaged me or ‘winked’ at me, so if they were real, the chances were pretty good that at least one would respond. Nope.
To check, I created another profile with my place of residence listed as Dimboola. And lo and behold, the same sex starved young ladies, same names, same pictures, who were so desperate to meet me in in Muston or Macgillivray on Kangaroo Island had all now moved to such unlikely places as Cry Melon or Pimpinio. And some of those same young ladies also immediately sent me winks and messages.
This is a very cleverly scripted scam site. Whatever your postcode, you will find dozens of lonely sex starved young ladies within a few miles. They are so desperate to meet you they will message you as soon as you join the site. All you need to do to get in touch is hand over your credit card details. Except the young ladies don’t exist, and the winks and messages are computer generated.
A google check revealed that rudefinder and justhookup are the same thing. Same profiles, same sign in credentials work on both. Both scams.
Of course, if you sign up for a site like this you are an idiot anyway. But that doesn’t mean you deserve to be ripped off.
Finally, I wonder whether there is a link between the CFS ESL Eurosoft scams and these websites. The same thinking motivates both – greed, a cold lack of regard for others, and the belief that if people sign up it is their own fault and they deserve what they get.
Also, this guy, prominent on both rudefinder and justhookup, looks vaguely familiar:
And then of course there is Larry Pickering’s talent both for smut and for stock trading and sports software scams.