Wednesday, July 31, 2019

NY Fire Commissioners Demand New 9/11 Probe, Citing "Overwhelming Evidence of Pre-Planted Explosives"

NY Fire Commissioners Demand New 9/11 Probe, Citing "Overwhelming Evidence of Pre-Planted Explosives" 

Tulsi's Last Stand


It was already one of the most memorable moments of the Democratic presidential debates in this young election cycle. “Leaders as disparate as President Obama and President Trump have both said they want to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan but it isn’t over for America,” observed moderator Rachel Maddow. “Why isn’t it over? Why can’t presidents of very different parties and very different temperaments get us out of there? And how could you?”

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio responded with talking points that could have been ripped out of a George W. Bush speech circa 2004. “[T]he lesson that I’ve learned over the years is that you have to stay engaged in these situations,” he said, later adding, “Whether we’re talking about Central America, whether we’re talking about Iran, whether we’re talking about Afghanistan, we have got to be completely engaged.”

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was having none of it. “Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? Well, we just have to be engaged?” she asked a sputtering Ryan. “As a soldier, I will tell you that answer is unacceptable. We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.” Gabbard noted that she had joined the military to fight those who attacked us on 9/11, not to nation-build indefinitely in Afghanistan, and pointed out the perfidy of Saudi Arabia.

Some likened Gabbard’s rebuke of Ryan to the famous 2007 exchange between Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani. Except Paul, then a relatively unknown congressman from Texas, was speaking truth to power against “America’s Mayor” and the national GOP frontrunner. Gabbard is polling at 0.8 percent in the national RealClearPolitics average, and was challenging someone at 0.3 percent.

Ryan’s asterisk candidacy is unsurprising. But Gabbard has been perhaps the most interesting Democrat running for president and Wednesday night could be her last stand. She gets to share the stage with frontrunner Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton a vote for the Iraq war. There is no guarantee she will get another opportunity: the eligibility criteria for subsequent debates is more stringent and she has yet to qualify.

The huge Democratic field has been a bust. Of the more than 20 declared presidential candidates, only seven are polling at 2 percent or more in the national averages. Two more – Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar – are polling at least that well in Iowa. Only four candidates are consistently polling in the double digits: Biden, who recovered from his early debate stumbles and remains comfortably in the lead; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has nevertheless mostly failed to recapture his 2016 magic; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who seems ascendant; and Senator Kamala Harris of California, potentially the main threat to Biden’s rock-solid black support.

Low-polling candidates have still managed to have an impact. Some, like former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro, have helped coax contenders likelier to win the nomination to the left on immigration. We’ve thus seen Democrats raise their hands in support of decriminalizing illegal border crossings in the midst of a migrant crisis not entirely of the Trump administration’s making, expanding Medicare to cover everyone even at the expense of private health insurance, and ensuring that “everyone” includes illegal immigrants. Transgender abortions, also at taxpayer expense, have come up too.

Gabbard has so far been unable to penetrate this madness despite being young (she’s 38), attractive, telegenic, a military veteran, a woman of color, and an articulate, passionate opponent of the regime change wars that have brought our country so much pain. While reliably progressive, she has occasionally reached across the political divide on issues like religious liberty and Big Tech censorship, a potent combination that could prove more responsive to Trump voters’ concerns than what we’ve heard from her neocon lite interlocutor from Youngstown. 

“None of this seems to matter in a Democratic Party that cares more about wokeness than war. In fact, Gabbard’s conservative fans – The View brought up Ann Coulter – are often held against her, as is her failure to go all in on Trump-Russia. Ninety-five Democrats stand ready to impeach Trump over mean tweets with nary a peep over the near-bombing of Iran or the active thwarting of Congress’s will on Yemen. 

That’s not to say that no one else running is sound on foreign policy – Bernie has realist advisers and it took real courage for Warren to back Trump’s abortive withdrawals from Afghanistan and Syria – and it required a Democratic House to advance the bipartisan Yemen resolution. But none of them are basing their campaigns on it in the same way Gabbard has. Nor do any of them better represent our military veterans’ sharp turn against forever war, arguably the most important public opinion trend of our time.

Liberals remain skeptical of Gabbard’s turn away from social conservatism (which admittedly went far beyond sincerely opposing gay marriage while Barack Obama was merely pretending to do so), which she attributes to “aloha.” In meeting with Bashar al-Assad, she hurt her credibility as a foe of the Syria intervention, failing to realize that doves are held to a higher standard on these matters than hawks.

A saner Democratic Party might realize the chances are far greater that their nominee will be a covert hawk rather than a secret right-winger. Only time will tell if vestiges of that party still exist.


This article has been republished with the permission of The American Conservative. 

[Image Credit: Flickr-Gage Skidmore, BY SA 2.0]


Hacking Homo Sapiens


“Live your best life” is one of those sayings that people like to pass around like a verbal head cold. No one is sure who started it, but they’re all too eager to pass the phrase on anyway. What’s never addressed is what “your best life” looks like.

Never fear, Elon Musk is here. He recently announced that his company Neuralink has created a new brain-interface device. Musk laid out a common vision for our best lives by declaring that:

“We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. ”

“Live your best life”? More like “live your Borg life!”

Jokes and pop-culture thumbsuckery aside, such technological terrors lie (hopefully) far from Musk’s mind. According to the Scientific American, Musk’s immediate goal for the new device is to allow “people with quadriplegia to control a computer or smartphone using just their thoughts.”

Scientific American continues, “Musk’s vision is much more ambitious than that: he seeks to enable humans to ‘merge’ with AI, giving people superhuman intelligence.” Put another way, Musk wants us to have miniaturized C-3POs melded onto our cerebral cortexes.

Now, much like the time I discovered a colony of grasshoppers living in my dresser, a few things jump out at me.

First and foremost, whenever talk of human enhancement rears its ugly metallic head, clichéd responses ring out as surely as gunshots at a hillbilly happy hour. Skeptics react like they’ve just swallowed their grandmother’s dentures, and the true believers’ faces light up like preschoolers given unlimited access to an Oreo factory.

Yet for those of us outside the loop, the question arises as to why any normal person would want scientists to stick pieces of silicone into our very non-silicone craniums.

In theory, it’s to make us better. As Yuval Harari argues in his book Homo Deus (sequel to the runaway hit Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind), “upgrading” humans is the next logical step of evolution, making us smarter and more productive. Or as MIT Technology Review notes, “technology [like interfacing with AI] could allow people to make themselves ‘better than well.’”

But here’s the other thing I realized: is being smarter, more productive, or even telepathic, actually better?

It seems that equating “better” with being smarter or richer is an assumption on the part of technophiles like Musk or Harari. Not that those things are necessarily bad, but I cannot help but feel it’s a tad narrowminded.

As economist Joseph Schumpeter noted, though the modern age is swamped with technological “betterment,” there is no data to suggest that people are living happier or more fulfilled lives.

So perhaps the path to better lives lie not (as Musk would have us believe) through Borgification, but rather through what emperor/philosopher Marcus Aurelius termed “good fortune.” Aurelius did not mean that betterment results from chance or luck, or even a clairvoyant fortune teller. Rather, Aurelius asserted that “true good fortune is what you make for yourself … good character, good intentions, and good actions.”

As opposed to the “better” life offered by Musk and others of a cyborgic future where we will merge with AI in a communion almost as wonderous as that of chocolate and peanut butter, Aurelius (and other ancient philosophers) argued that the best life is to possess “good character,” and “to live each day is if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

Compared to Musk’s spectacular visions of human enhancement, Aurelius’s exhortations to pursue good character possesses all the sexiness of a stodgy stockbroker. But is the promise of a better life that Aurelius offers far more actionable (and affordable) for the average person than Musk’s vision of a cybernetic future?


[Image Credit: Flickr-Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0]


The Other Crisis in Psychology


In July 2019, Christopher Ferguson published an article in Quillette on the replication crisis in psychology. As an academic psychologist, I appreciated his clear and concise discussion of some of the difficult issues facing psychology’s growth as a science, including publication bias and the sensationalizing of weak effects. I believe a related, but perhaps less-recognized, illness plagues psychology and related disciplines (including the health sciences, family studies, sociology, and education). That illness is the conflation of correlation with causation, and the latest research suggests that scientists, and not lay people and the media, are the underlying culprits.

Correlation and Causation

We have probably all heard the cliché “Correlation is not causation.” Of the criteria for documenting that one variable causes a change in another variable, correlation is just the first of three.

That is, the first criterion for documenting that one variable causes a change in another variable is evidence that the two variables covary together: as one goes up, the other tends to, too (a positive correlation; for example, students who score high on the SAT tend to also have a higher GPA in college),1 or as one variable goes up, the other tends to go down (a negative correlation; for example, people who have a stronger interest in working with people vs. things are less likely to major in inorganic disciplines such as computer science and physics).

The second criterion is that of temporal precedence: the presumed cause must come before the presumed effect. For example, people who are spanked during childhood tend to score lower on IQ tests during adolescence.2 Descriptions of temporal precedence tend to evoke cause and effect interpretations. For example, in the context of spanking and IQ, it is tempting to infer that spanking causes lower IQ. However, temporal precedence is necessary but not sufficient for inferring causality. As Steven Pinker described in The Blank Slate, if you set two alarms when you go to bed, one for 6:00am and the other for 6:15am, and the first alarm reliably goes off before the second alarm, you will have evidence of systematic covariance and temporal precedence, but that doesn’t mean that the first alarm caused the second alarm to go off. Likewise, spanking in childhood occurs before the measurement of IQ in adolescence, but that doesn’t provide evidence that spanking causes lower IQ. The tendency to infer causality from temporal precedence appears to underly belief in the well-refuted myth that vaccines cause autism3: Because vaccines are given before symptoms of autism reveal themselves, people are quick to mistakenly assume that the vaccines cause autism. By this logic, everything from crawling to walking is a cause of autism.

The third criterion is of utmost importance. To infer causality, researchers must address potential confounding variables—variables other than the presumed cause that could account for the association between the presumed cause and effect. In the case of spanking and IQ, for example, one can entertain all kinds of potential (and non-mutually exclusive) confounds: living in a high-stress, poverty-stricken environment could lead to both being spanked and suboptimal development of cognitive ability; lower parental IQ could be accounting for both the use of corporal punishment and children’s lower IQ scores; pre-existing low IQ scores in children could lead to both being spanked and continued lower IQ scores into adolescence; etc. To make the case for a specific cause (such as spanking), the cause must be isolated and then, via random assignment, imposed upon some individuals and not others (or varying levels of the cause must be imposed on different groups of individuals). Generally, this is accomplished through experimental design that includes manipulation of the presumed cause followed by measurement of the variable that is predicted to be affected by the manipulation.

No ethical researcher plans on randomly assigning parents to engage in varying degrees of corporal punishment to assess its isolated effects on children’s IQ. But other questions about humans can be tackled with experiments. For example, researchers who want to test the hypothesis that playing violent games increases aggression have used experimental designs4 in which some individuals are randomly assigned to play a violent video game for a specified period of time and others are assigned to play a similarly arousing but non-violent video game; after imposing the manipulation, individuals’ aggression is measured.

A controlled experiment—in which a specific causal variable is manipulated by the researcher, participants are randomly assigned to experience different levels of that manipulated variable, everything else is held constant, and the effects of that manipulation are then measured objectively—is the “gold standard” for documenting causality. Notably, documenting that a variable has a causal impact on another variable does not mean that it determines that other variable. In the case of violent video games and aggression, there may be evidence that exposure to violent video games has short-term influence on aggressive thoughts,5 but exposure to violent video games doesn’t determine how aggressive people are; it is just one of many variables that influence aggression.

Perhaps the distinction between correlation and causation makes perfect sense to you. Lucky you, because you are not in the majority. The tendency to conflate correlation and causation is well-known and discussed widely in books on logical thinking (such as Keith Stanovich’s What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought) and biases in thinking (such as Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things).

Several years ago, my students and I published systematic evidence that the tendency to conflate correlation with causation occurs regardless of how educated people are. In one study, for example, we gave a group of community adults a hypothetical research vignette that described a correlational study of students’ self-esteem and academic performance, in which both variables were measured (observed) and neither was manipulated. To another group of participants, we gave a hypothetical research vignette that described an experimental study in which students’ self-esteem was manipulated (that is, by random assignment some students received self-esteem promoting messages and some students did not) and then the students’ academic performance was measured. For both groups of participants, the research vignette concluded with a statement that the study revealed a positive correlation between self-esteem and academic performance. Then, we asked the participants what inferences they could draw from the finding.

The participants in the two groups were equally likely to conclude that self-esteem leads to academic success, even though participants who read about the correlational study should not have drawn that conclusion. Moreover, participants who read about the correlational study were similarly likely to draw an erroneous causal inference regardless of how educated they were! (The inference that self-esteem enhances academic performance, by the way, actually goes against the latest science, which shows quite clearly that if self-esteem and academic success are causally connected, it is academic success that precedes self-esteem, not the reverse!)6

The Language of Causality

As a likely manifestation of the human bias toward inferring cause and effect, there are far more ways to describe cause and effect associations than there are ways to describe non-causal associations. When my colleagues and I pored through several hundred journal articles in psychology, we found more than 100 different words and phrases that were used to denote cause-and-effect relationships. These are shown in the word cloud below, with the most commonly used words in large font.

There are probably hundreds of ways of denoting cause and effect relationships, and the reason this is important is that people don’t really know what does and does not qualify as causal language,7 nor (as I described above) do they recognize the conditions under which causal language is warranted. So, if a description of research findings uses causal language without justification, the reader is unlikely to realize it, and hence they will be misled without having a clue they are being misled.

Scholars have repeatedly blamed the media for inappropriate use of causal language. In 2016, when Brian Resnick of Vox asked famous psychologists and social scientists what journalists get wrong when writing about research, conflating correlation and causation topped the list. Indeed, unwarranted causal inferences abound in the media. A quick search on nearly any news site will reveal headlines like “How Student Alcohol Consumption Affects GPA”  and “Sincere Smiling Promotes Longevity” and “For Teens, Online Bullying Worsens Sleep and Depression,” all of which are causal claims made on the basis of non-causal (correlational) research with measured variables.

Recently, though, several studies have shown that unwarranted causal language begins with scientists themselves. For example, in medicine, one extensive review showed that over half of articles about correlational studies included cause and effect interpretations of the findings.8 And in education, a review of articles published in teaching and learning journals found that over a third of articles about correlational studies included causal statements.9 In psychology, my colleagues and I conducted two studies that reinforced the ubiquity of the problem. First, we reviewed a random sample of poster abstracts that had been accepted for presentation at an annual convention of the premier professional organization in psychology, the Association for Psychological Science. We were disappointed to find that over half of the abstracts that included cause and effect language did so without warrant (i.e., the research was correlational). Of course, poster presentations are held to a less rigorous standard than are formal talks or published journal articles, so in a follow-up study, we reviewed 660 articles from 11 different well-known journals in the discipline. Our findings replicated: over half of the articles with cause and effect language described studies that were actually correlational; in other words, the causal language was not warranted.

When I submitted our analysis of unwarranted causal language to a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, the journal editor dismissed the submission, saying the human tendency to conflate correlation with causation is already well-known. Well, it may be a well-known bias, but it is obviously not easy to address if it is rampant in the poster presentations of one of psychology’s most popular professional conventions and just as prevalent in highly respected journals in the discipline. (We did proceed to publish our findings in a different journal whose editor asked us to submit to them.)

Failing to Consider Confounds

The failure to consider confounds and to erroneously infer causality from correlational data inhibits us from developing optimally effective solutions to the problems we face in society. Consider, for example, the massive variation among young children in their early language acquisition and subsequent school achievement. One of the most commonly referenced studies in early childhood development and education is Hart & Risley’s 1995 longitudinal study that demonstrated that children raised in low socioeconomic status homes had parents who spoke far fewer words to them than did children raised in high socioeconomic status homes, and these early differences in language experience predicted subsequent disparities between children in their vocabularies and school achievement.10 This link was interpreted as causal—that the verbal environment parents provide to their children is a key influence on their children’s verbal development—and it spurred many intensive and expensive programs that teach and support verbal interaction between parents and infants. However, Hart and Risley’s data were correlational. That is, the researchers did not manipulate the quantity and quality of verbal interactions that parents had with their young children; they did not randomly assign some parents to provide one form of language experience and other parents to provide another and then measure any change in children’s development as a result of the manipulation. To suggest that differences in early language experiences cause differences in children’s vocabularies and school achievement requires the elimination of confounds—that is, variables that could account for the correlation because they lead to both strong verbal interaction from parents and strong verbal ability in children.

Shared genetics is one potential confound. Parents of higher socioeconomic status tend to have higher cognitive ability than parents of lower socioeconomic status, and socioeconomic status and cognitive ability are both heritable.11 So, shared genes could be a third variable that influences both the quality of language experiences that parents provide and children’s verbal ability. To test this possibility, behavioral geneticists have taken advantage of “experiments of nature” in which some children are raised by their biological parents (sharing both genes and environment) and some children are raised by adoptive parents (sharing only environment). In typical families (like those in Hart and Risley’s study), how similar are children to their parents, with whom they share both genes and a rearing environment? In adoptive families, how similar are children to their parents, with whom they share only a rearing environment?

In fact, the answers to these questions were first documented in the 1920s12 and have replicated on multiple occasions by myriad researchers13: In biological families, children resemble their parents in vocabulary and verbal ability; in adoptive families, they do not. The key implication is that Hart and Risley’s finding of a link between parents’ verbal behavior and their children’s verbal ability does not warrant an inference that parents’ verbal behavior influences their children’s verbal ability. The link is better explained by shared genes, because the association only reveals itself when parents and children are genetic relatives. Stated another way, the findings imply that the type of parents who provide high-quality language experiences to their children differ systematically from those who provide lower-quality experiences; and children who evoke high-quality verbal reactions from their parents differ systematically from those who do not. Because developmental psychologists and educators continue to interpret correlational data like Hart and Risley’s as evidence of the causal impact of early language experiences on verbal ability, they continue to push interventions that, in the end, are likely to be relatively less effective than interventions that acknowledge and address both environmental and genetic differences between individuals and families.

Another domain in which conflation of correlation with causation may be leading us astray is with microaggressions. In the article that popularized this term, microaggressions were defined as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”14 The term was initially applied in the context of race and ethnicity but is now applied much more broadly. One key finding from correlational research on microaggressions is that individuals who self-report being microaggressed against are more likely than others to struggle with mental health issues.15 The data are correlational, yet have been interpreted as causal: that is, that being microaggressed against causes mental health issues.16 As such, it is now common in both the academic and corporate world to offer or require employee training on the various phrases, words, and actions that might qualify as microaggressions. I am not suggesting that being microaggressed against does not actually have a negative effect on individuals’ well-being; the causal path is certainly plausible. However, the causal inference is not valid in the absence of true experimental research that imposes microaggressions on some individuals and not others, with subsequent measurement of pre-specified outcomes. To say otherwise is telling more than we know.

As Scott Lilienfeld pointed out in his article17 calling for more rigorous research on microaggressions, a glaring confound is the personality trait of negative emotionality (neuroticism): Individuals who are high in negative emotionality are particularly likely to perceive themselves as microaggressed against and individuals who are high in negative emotionality are susceptible to mental health issues. The possibility that negative emotionality underlies both experiencing microaggressions and mental health concerns is quite reasonable given that microaggressions have no precise definition but rather are defined entirely in terms of the listener’s interpretation. I propose that microaggression workshops, to the degree that they are motivated by unwarranted assumptions of the causal impact of microaggressions on mental health, might actually backfire by making at-risk individuals more likely to perceive themselves as microaggressed against.

Indeed, in research that my colleagues and I presented last year, when we primed college students with the note that “people say all kinds of things, and sometimes they say things that can be harmful without even realizing it,” the students who scored higher in negative emotionality subsequently rated ambiguous statements like “You should take up running” to be more harmful than did students who scored low in negative emotionality. As Lukianoff and Haidt argued in The Coddling of the American Mind, microaggression training may not be preparing people to engage with each other respectfully (as it presumably aspires to), but rather to look for opportunities to take offense in others’ words.

Psychology Can Do Better

In the same way that psychological scientists have responded to the replication crisis by holding ourselves accountable for engaging in more responsible research and data analysis practices, I hope that psychological scientists can work together to overcome our tendency to infer causality from correlational data. How we overcome this tendency may depend on why, how, when, and to whom it happens. It is possible that, just like anyone else, psychologists have a difficult time distinguishing between correlation and causation; if that is the case, we need to supplement our scientific training to include more pointed practice with causal language and criteria for demonstrating causality.

Another possibility is that psychological scientists recognize unwarranted causal inferences when evaluating others’ research but miss it in their own, perhaps because of ideological and self-serving biases. If that is the case, we need to encourage individuals with competing viewpoints to provide constructive review of each other’s research, with correlation versus causation front of mind. It is also posible that scientists use unwarranted causal language intentionally, in an effort to draw more attention to their work. Luckily, recent research suggests that engaging in such causal “spin” is unnecessary, because press releases that are crafted with causal language and press releases that are crafted with non-causal language are picked up by news outlets at similar rates.

Regardless, it is up to psychological scientists to hold one another—and themselves—to a higher standard of (1) recognizing a causal statement when they see it, and (2) identifying whether or not the three criteria have been met for making that causal statement. In the scientific pursuit of truth, psychology must do better.


April L. Bleske-Rechek earned her BA in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1996) and her PhD in Individual Differences and Evolutionary Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin (2001). She is currently a Psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


1 Sackett, P. R., Borneman, M. J., & Connelly, B. S. (2008). High-stakes testing in higher education and employment: Appraising the evidence for validity and fairness. American Psychologist, 63, 215-227. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.63.4.215
2 Straus, M. A., & Paschall, M. J. (2009). Corporal punishment by mothers and development of children’s cognitive ability: A longitudinal study of two nationally representative age cohorts. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 18, 459-583. doi:10.1080/10926770903035168
3 Madsen, K. M., Hviid, A., Vestergaard, M., Schendel, D., Wolfhart, J. et al. (2002). A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. The New England Journal of Medicine, 347, 1477-1482. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa021134
Honda, H., Shimizu, Y., & Rutter, M. (2005). No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: A total population study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 572-579. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01425.x
4 Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12, 353-359. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00366
5 Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12, 353-359. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00366
6 Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. J., & Vohs, K. D. (2008). Exploding the self-esteem myth. In S. O. Lilienfeld, J. Ruscio, & S. J. Lynn (eds.), Navigating the mindfield: A user’s guide to distinguishing science from pseudoscience in mental health, pp. 575-587. Amherst, NY, US: Prometheus Books.
7 Adams, R. C., Sumner, P., Vivian-Griffiths, S., Barrington, A., Williams, A., Boivin, J., Chambers, C. D.,& Bott, l. (2017). How readers understand causal and correlational expressions used in news headlines. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 23, 1-14. doi:10.1037/xap0000100
Mueller, J. F., & Coon, H. M. (2013). Undergraduates’ ability to recognize correlational and causal language before and after explicit instruction. Teaching of Psychology, 40, 288-293. doi:10.1177/0098628313501038
8 Lazarus, C., Haneef, R., Ravaud, P., & Boutron, I. (2015). Classification and prevalence of spin in abstracts of non-randomized studies evaluating an intervention. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 15, 85. doi:10.1186/s12874-015-0079-x
9 Robinson, D. H., Levin, J. R., Thomas, G. D., Pituch, K. A., & Vaugh, S. (2007). The incidence of ‘causal’ statements in teaching-and-learning research journals. American Educational Research Journal, 44, 400–413. doi:10.3102/0002831207302174
10 Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
11 Marioni, R. E., Davies, G., Hayward, C., Liewald, D., Kerr, S. M., Campbell, A.,…Deary, I. J. (2014). Molecular genetic contributions to socioeconomic status and intelligence. Intelligence, 44, 26-32. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2014.02.006
Trzaskowski, M., Harlaar, N., Arden, R., Krapohl, E., Rimfeld, K., McMillan, A.,…Plomin, R. (2014). Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children’s intelligence. Intelligence, 42, 83-88. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2013.11.002
12 Burks, B. S. (1928). The relative influence of nature and nurture upon mental development; a comparative study of foster parent-foster child resemblance and true parent-true child resemblance. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Pt. I, 219-316.
13 Leahy, A. M. (1935). A study of adopted children as a method of investigating nature-nurture. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 30, 281-287. doi:10.1080/01621459.1935.10504170
Neiss, M., & Rowe, D. C. (2000). Parental education and child’s verbal IQ in adoptive and biological families in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Behavior Genetics, 30, 487-495.
Wadsworth, S. J., Corley, R. P., Hewitt, J. K., Plomin, R., & DeFries, J. C. (2002). Parent-offspring resemblance for reading performance at 7, 12 and 16 years of age in the Colorado Adoption Project. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 769-774. doi:10.1111/1469-7610.00085
14 Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62, 271-286. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271
15 Nadal, K. L., Griffin, K. E., Wong, Y., Hamit, S., & Rasmus, M. (2014). The impact of racial microaggressions on mental health: Counseling implications for clients of color. Journal of Counseling & Development, 92, 57-66.  doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.2014.00130.x
16 Note the causal language in the title of the article: Nadal, K. L., Griffin, K. E., Wong, Y., Hamit, S., & Rasmus, M. (2014). The impact of racial microaggressions on mental health: Counseling implications for clients of color. Journal of Counseling & Development, 92, 57-66.  doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.2014.00130.x
17 Lilienfeld, S. (2017). Microaggressions: Strong claims, inadequate evidence. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12, 138–169. doi:10.1177/1745691616659391

The post The Other Crisis in Psychology appeared first on Quillette.


The Fix Was in from the Start for Hillary's 'Exoneration,' Immunity Agreements with Aides Suggest | Trending

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Treasury Department is in desperate need of a sucker


Ten years ago, at the peak of the global financial crisis, the Board of Trustees which oversees Social Security in the United States issued a stark warning:

They projected that Social Security’s enormous trust funds would completely run out of money in 2039.

Naturally nobody paid attention. Back in 2009 the economy in shambles, so focusing on a future economic crisis that was more than three decades away was a low priority.

And for the past decade, the US government has continued to ignore its Social Security problem.

But it’s become much worse.

Ten years later, the Board of Trustees now projects that Social Security’s primary trust fund will run out money in 2034.

That’s five years earlier than they projected back in 2009. And it’s only 15 years away.

Now, 15 years might seem like a long time. But take a minute to grasp the magnitude of this problem:

According to the US government’s own estimates, Social Security and Medicare combined are underfunded by $100 TRILLION.

$100 trillion is literally more than FIVE TIMES the size of the entire US economy. And this giant fiscal chasm is actually growing.

The big problem for Social Security is that tax revenue is no longer enough.

Every worker who is legally employed in the United States currently pays roughly 15% of his/her wages each month to help fund Social Security and pay benefits to retirees.

But there are now so many people receiving Social Security benefits that all the payroll tax revenue is no longer enough.

Social Security also derives a portion of the income it needs to pay benefits from the investment returns on its $3 trillion worth of assets.

Problem is– Social Security is forbidden by law to invest in anything EXCEPT United States government bonds.

Most countries who have large Sovereign Wealth Funds or Pension Funds have the latitude to invest that capital in a variety of asset classes.

I personally know several national pension fund and sovereign wealth fund executives in Europe and Asia, and they typically buy a wide variety of assets– real estate, private equity, stocks, bonds, etc., with a target annualized return of between 6% to 8%.

(Norway’s sovereign wealth fund earned an average 7.6% between 2010 and 2017. And California’s state employee pension fund, CALPERS, earned 6.7% last year.)

But Social Security doesn’t have this investment freedom. Instead, Social Security is required BY LAW to invest in US government bonds, which yield less than 3%.

In fact Social Security’s investment return last year was 2.9%.

You’re probably starting to see the problem–

At the moment, Social Security is the #1 owner of US government debt, having spent years stockpiling $3 trillion of dollars worth of US Treasury bonds.

Month after month, as payroll tax revenues exceeded the total retirement benefits paid out, Social Security invested its surplus into government bonds.

But now that flow of money is about to reverse.

We know that Social Security’s payroll tax revenue is no longer sufficient to pay out benefits. There are simply too many retirees.

We also know that the 2.9% invest return is pitiful and not going to help at all.

This means that Social Security is about to start burning through the trust funds in order to meet its monthly benefit obligations.

The Board of Trustees has already acknowledged this fact. And they project the trust funds will be fully depleted in 15 years.

But it could likely come much sooner than that.

Before they can use the trust funds to cover their financial shortfall, Social Security will first have to convert its government bonds into cash.

Doing that will require that they either let the bonds mature (and demand the government to repay them in full). Or it will require them to dump tens of billions… hundreds of billions of dollars worth of bonds on the open market.

Either way, Uncle Sam loses its biggest lender. Instead of borrowing money from Social Security, the Treasury Department is going to have to pay Social Security back.

We’re talking $3 TRILLION. That’s not exactly pocket change. And it’s coming at a time when the US government is already losing more than $1 trillion per year.

The Congressional Budget Office already forecasts that the federal government will have to borrow $12.7 trillion in additional debt through the end of 2029.

Now, on top of that already-prodigious figure, the Treasury Department will have to find some sucker willing to lend an additional $3 trillion to repay Social Security… not to mention tens of trillions of dollars more down the road.

That’s extremely unlikely.

What’s far more likely is that the US government simply freezes the repayments to Social Security.

Maybe they pay back a trillion or two. But not the full amount. The rest of it would be frozen, which means that the trust funds would be effectively depleted MUCH earlier than expected.

Prudential, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, estimates that 86% of current retirees, 88% of baby boomers who are about to retire, and 71% of Gen-Xers, rely or expect to rely on Social Security when they retire.

But the Social Security trustees themselves tell us that the funds will run out of money in 15 years. And as I’ve just shown, it could happen a lot sooner than that.

So it’s clear that a LOT of people will have their lives turned upside down.

Look, maybe I’m totally wrong.

Maybe the Treasury Department does find a sucker to bail out Social Security. Maybe that sucker is us. Bank deposits, managed IRAs, etc. are all fair game for Uncle Sam. They could seize anything they want.

But even if I’m totally wrong, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a Plan B… to take back control of your own retirement.




Sunday, July 28, 2019

As the Jeffrey Epstein Case Grows, Manhattan and DC Brace for Impact | Vanity Fair

What Progressives Hopefully Learned From Russiagate


The Robert Mueller hearing on Tuesday was widely regarded as a humiliating disaster, not just by critics of the establishment Russia narrative, but by mainstream Democratic pundits. We haven’t seen a US official look so befuddled and disorganized during a congressional hearing since that time John McCain started babbling gibberish at James Comey, and he had a tumor eating his brain.

“A frail old man, unable to remember things, stumbling, refusing to answer basic questions,” tweeted liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore after the circus had ended. “I said it in 2017 and Mueller confirmed it today — All you pundits and moderates and lame Dems who told the public to put their faith in the esteemed Robert Mueller — just STFU from now on.”

“Much as I hate to say it, this morning’s hearing was a disaster,” tweeted virulent Russiagater Laurence Tribe. “Far from breathing life into his damning report, the tired Robert Mueller sucked the life out of it. The effort to save democracy and the rule of law from this lawless president has been set back, not advanced.”

“On the optics, this was a disaster,” summarized NBC’s Chuck Todd.

As you’d expect, this widespread sentiment is shared by Trump himself, who told reporters after the hearing that “We had a very good day today.”

A frail old man, unable to remember things, stumbling, refusing to answer basic questions...I said it in 2017 and Mueller confirmed it today - All you pundits and moderates and lame Dems who told the public to put their faith in the esteemed Robert Mueller - just STFU from now on

 — @MMFlint

It is entirely possible that the Democrats and their allied media outlets handed Trump a re-election in 2020 with their nonstop fixation on a fact-free conspiracy theory that was doomed to failure, and many progressives have been pointing this out.

“This whole setup has done more damage to the Democrats’ chances of winning back the White House than anything that Trump could ever have dreamed up,” former MSNBC host Kristal Ball said after the hearing. “Think about all the time and the journalistic resources that could have been dedicated to stories that, I don’t know, that a broad swath of people might actually care about? Healthcare, wages, the teachers’ movement, whether we’re going to war with Iran?”

“It’s a self-soothing fantasy that makes people like Hillary Clinton and her allies feel better, but in reality all of this stood to help Trump, which is why from the very beginning I thought that this was such a disaster,” journalist Aaron Maté told CGTN America’s The Heat regarding the Russiagate conspiracy theory.

“It’s great to see more leftists & liberals recognizing that channelling the anti-Trump Resistance into a stupid conspiracy theory was a massive mistake, but for next time: let’s try harder to voice that when it’s actually happening for 2+ years, not after it finally collapses,” tweeted Maté, whose unparalleled reporting on the gaping plot holes in the Russiagate narrative won him an Izzy Award earlier this year.

It's great to see more leftists & liberals recognizing that channelling the anti-Trump Resistance into a stupid conspiracy theory was a massive mistake, but for next time: let's try harder to voice that when it's actually happening for 2+ years, not after it finally collapses.

 — @aaronjmate

Maté can reasonably be described as today’s leading authority on the Russiagate narrative and the arguments for and against it, and he is right not to only single out liberals in his criticism. It is true that there have been plenty of leftists and progressives who’ve continuously opposed Russiagate right from the get go, at least in part for the reasons Maté offers, but it is also true that it wasn’t just liberals who got lost in the conspiratorial haze of Trump-Russia hysteria.

I always get people on the left arguing with me about this, but it’s true. Being involved in progressive circles in 2017 was like watching a zombie apocalypse, with more and more leftists and Berners contracting the mind virus with every shrieking “bombshell” mass media Russiagate report. Maybe in your own small circle you didn’t see anyone succumb to the zombie outbreak, but everyone who interacted with a large and diverse cross-section of America’s true left in early-to-mid 2017 knows exactly what I’m talking about. Not everyone hopped on the Russiagate bandwagon, but many did, likely due in no small part to the fact that Bernie Sanders himself was continuously and forcefully pushing the collusion narrative on American progressives.

But it wasn’t even that they all necessarily bought into the propaganda. When Russiagate first started I pushed back against it hard on social media, especially on Facebook, and during that time I had a few Bernie people (who comprised a large percentage of my audience back then) admit to me that they knew the Russia stuff was probably fake, but they were helping to push it in the hope that it could hurt Trump. They didn’t honestly believe he’d get removed from office for Russian collusion, but they hoped that pushing for an investigation would help turn up impeachable evidence of corruption, or at least cause him political damage.

What do such people have to show for that strategy now? A new cold war reignited by a president who has been able to escalate world-threatening tensions against Russia with no resistance from his ostensible opposition whatsoever, and a 2020 election that now looks orders of magnitude harder to win than it ever should have been.

Trump just told @seanhannity that Putin was "very, very strong." I bet he was. How did it feel, big guy? This is the right-wing alpha?! Ha, ha, ha. Sad! Their leader just got cucked in front of the whole world. It was an absolute #Cucktastrophe. #Beta #Omega #TreasonSummit

 — @cenkuygur

There are a couple of lessons that I hope progressives have learned from all this.

Firstly, I hope progressives have learned that we’re never going to manipulate our way into progressive reform. Truth is the one and only weapon we have. Trying to use a deceitful narrative to manipulate toward a desired end is something establishment loyalists do, but if progressives try it it will bite us in the ass every single time. If we try to manipulate the establishment away, we’re pitting our fledgling manipulation skills against manipulators who have generations of mastery in that field under their belt. You’re never, ever going to manipulate desired ends out of an establishment that is teeming with master manipulators. Truth is the only way.

Secondly, I hope that progressives are beginning to see that you can’t collaborate with the establishment to defeat the establishment. The oligarchic empire isn’t going to cooperate in its own destruction. Believing that you were going to be able to use an empire lackey like Robert “Iraq has WMDs” Mueller to bring the Executive Branch of the US empire to its knees was very foolish. If there’s any strength left in what remains of America’s progressive movement to effect real change, that change will come solely from grassroots populism, and it will be met with extremely forceful opposition from the Democratic establishment. If what you’re doing isn’t giving Nancy Pelosi literal night terrors, it’s worthless.

The establishment narrative managers are not done trying to herd America’s political left back into the establishment fold. New attempts to manipulate the mind of the American progressive are being workshopped currently, and they will likely be more subtle and devious than Russiagate was. Here’s hoping progressives learn their lesson and grow from it enough to prevent the next manipulation from succeeding.


The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Here’s What Happened When a Journalist Exposed a Pedo Sex Ring in Mexico


On July 23, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for Mexican authorities to protect investigative reporter Lydia Cacho Ribeiro.

Two days prior, unidentified thugs broke into the journalist’s home, killed her two dogs, stole a laptop, audio recorder, three cameras, memory cards, and ten hard drives “containing information about sexual abuse cases the reporter was investigating,” according to the CPJ and Cacho. The attackers also damaged personal belongings including photographs. 

This is my personal response to the new attack we recieved at home. Thank you for your solidarity. We must focus on facts and evidence regarding the extent of impunity and how it empowers the mafias. #WeWillNorSurrenderToSilence #JournalismIsAlive

— Lydia Cacho (@lydiacachosi) July 25, 2019

It’s remarkable Cacho is still alive. In 1999, she was beaten and raped in retaliation for her investigations. Despite this, she continued to report on sex rings and the trafficking and murder of Mexican girls. 

In 2005, she published Los Demonios de Edén (“The Demons of Eden”), a book exposing a child sex trafficking ring involving politicians, government officials, and businessmen. Cacho was arrested and charged with defamation following the book’s publication. 

CPJ reported at the time:

The underlying defamation case is based on a complaint filed by Puebla-based clothes manufacturer José Camel Nacif Borge, the Mexican press said. In a book released in May titled, “The Demons of Eden,” Cacho described the activities of a child prostitution ring that she said operated with the complicity of local police and politicians. She alleged that Nacif had ties to an accused pedophile, which the businessman said damaged his reputation.

Borge is one of the wealthiest men in Mexico. Known as “El Rey de la Mezclilla” (the Denim King), he amassed his wealth by manufacturing clothing for  Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Chaps, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, and American Eagle Outfitters. An investigation by the Game Commission of Nevada looked into Borge’s links to drug smuggling and gun-running. 

Threats against Cacho’s life were serious enough to warrant protection by the federal police. In 2006, a transcript of telephone conversations between Borge and Mario Marín, then governor of the state of Puebla, was published by the Mexico City daily La Jornada. Borge and Marín discussed having Cacho arrested and thrown in jail where she would be beaten and abused. 

In November 2009 the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that Chaco’s arrest on defamation charges did not violate her rights as a journalist. The ruling was made despite the fact at least 30 public officials, including Marín, had conspired to harass her, according to The New York Times. 

Por más que lo intenten no dejaré de investigar. El miedo no colonizará mi espíritu. Soy periodista, soy feminista y defensora de #DerechosHumanos el poder conlleva responsabilidad social. A los que me amenazan les digo: #AquíNadieSeRinde #Justicia #NiñezPrimero

— Lydia Cacho (@lydiacachosi) July 22, 2019

The Demons of Eden exposed a pedophile ring in Cancún. In the book, Cacho accuses 

a businessman, Jean Succar Kuri, of luring poor, under-age girls to his home and coercing them into having sex with him and his friends. She also mentioned a businessman from Puebla, Kamel Nacif, and said he was paying for Mr. Succar Kuri’s defense. (Mr. Succar Kuri, who is awaiting trial on child pornography and child molestation charges, maintains his innocence.)

Succar Kuri was convicted of child pornography and child sexual abuse and sentenced to 112 years in prison on August 31, 2011. 

The Epstein case exposed how the elite engages in pedophilia without serious consequence. Investigative journalists such as Conchita Sarnoff and Vicky Ward have yet to confront the sort of treatment suffered by Lydia Cacho and others for revealing details on the Epstein case, including the involvement of former president Bill Clinton. However, this may change if names other than celebrities and a former president and Israeli politician are made public. 

CBS46 reporter Ben Swann discovered what happens when you look too closely at the possibility the elite operate pedo sex rings. 

Although he made it clear “there is no proof here that there is a child sex ring being operated out of a D.C. pizza parlor,” he was suspended from the news network and his social media accounts and web page disappeared from the internet. 

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Ruling Elite Lolita Pedos Will Never Be Revealed


The “uncharged individuals” in the Epstein pedo case will likely remain unknown. 

Forever and aeternus et umquam.

CNBC reports:

Prosecutors made that disclosure as part of a request to the judge in Epstein’s case to order all parties in the case, including Epstein and his defense team, to not publicly disclose any information turned over by prosecutors to the defense as the case heads to trial.

In addition to Epstein, the only individuals that will be prosecuted are those low-level employees and associates “who facilitated his conduct by, among other things, contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with Epstein.”

Maybe, as well, a janitor or caterer will be prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. 

I’m being facetious, of course.

Members of the rarified class at the top of the financial pinnacle are rarely if ever prosecuted, let alone revealed for their crimes, up to and including mass murder and grand larceny on a continental scale. 

Occasionally mistakes are made. For instance, Virginia Roberts didn’t fall victim to a fatal accident, contract a case of overnight cancer, or mysteriously vanish from the face of the earth. 

We only know about Epstein’s relationship with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Courtney Love, Mick Jagger, Ehud Barak, Alan Dershowitz, Alec Baldwin, Ralph Fiennes, Ted Kennedy, David Koch, and others because a greedy idiot, Alfredo Rodriguez, tried to sell Epstein’s little black book and was busted. It took more than a decade for these names to come out. 

Earlier this month, Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown said:

We don’t know how much, how deep this went, how far-reaching it went in government, but there have been a lot of names that I could see on these message pads [listing clients] on a regular basis as part of the evidence. These message pads where they would call and leave Epstein messages, such as, ‘I’m at this hotel.’ Why do you do that, unless you’re expecting him to send you a girl to visit you at your hotel? So there are probably quite a few important people, powerful people, who are sweating it out right now. We’ll have to wait and see whether Epstein is going to name names.”

I doubt they need an antiperspirant. In fact, I am certain they are smugly confident they will never pay for the reprehensible crime of molesting and psychologically damaging children. 

Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, George W. Bush—a step or two down from the hidden ruling caste—have yet to pay a price for ordering (under orders, like Nazi field marshals) the murder of a countless number of children in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. This doesn’t take into account the toll exacted through “austerity” imposed on children by the IMF and World Bank or the body count produced by economic warfare (which killed 500,000 or more children in Iraq). 

A small number of people realize the enormity of the crimes of the ruling financial elite. However, most people, especially here in America, remain clueless. 

The real orchestrators and participants in horrible, often unimaginable crimes shall remain unknown for now and evermore—unless a Julian Assange character spills the beans, which seems unlikely. We know what fate awaits Julian Assange. 

Any speculation or dot connections beyond the lukewarm “revelations” produced by the corporate media will be summarily denounced as the ravings of mentally disturbed and dangerous conspiracy theorists. 

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Women In The United States Are Having Fewer Babies Than Ever Before In History

Women In The United States Are Having Fewer Babies Than Ever Before In History 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

MH17 Evidence-Tampering Exposed: Cover-Ups, Hiding Records, Witness Misreporting, & FBI Seizures

MH17 Evidence-Tampering Exposed: Cover-Ups, Hiding Records, Witness Misreporting, & FBI Seizures 

Not The Onion: NY Times Urges Trump To Establish Closer Ties With Moscow

Taylor Swift’s Soviet Style Humor


In the music video for her most recent single, “You Need to Calm Down,” Taylor Swift portrays religious Americans as toothless, hateful know-nothings who irrationally oppose the fun and individual autonomy enjoyed by the liberated gay community.

Sunshine on the street at the parade

But you would rather be in the dark age

Just making that sign…

We figured you out

 We all know now

We all got crowns

You need to calm down.

In her video, Swift reclines in a colorful lawn chair as a crowd of religious bigots scream at her from the other side of a drag queen’s fabulous runway. At the end of the video, Swift asks her fans to sign a petition to put a bill before congress that would legislate against the rights of Christian businessowners, non-profits, and churches.

This kind of derision – bold political action packaged as light entertainment – is a common technique used by the propaganda ministries of totalitarian regimes. Just as totalitarian regimes manufacture fake news, they also promote fake satire. 

The Soviets had a state-sanctioned “satire” magazine called Krokodil that was the comedic branch of the state’s newspaper, the Worker’s Gazette. Krokodil smeared ethnic groups that allegedly did not support the communist regime. Like the Worker’s Gazette, the Krokodil never criticized the Soviet regime itself, which is typically the subject of comedy in a free society. Instead, Krokodil aimed its jokes, humor, and entertainment at those backward groups throughout the Soviet empire rumored to not have fully supported the Revolution.

The point of the Krokodil magazine was not to illicit genuine laughs, it was to intimidate and instill fear. Krokodil emphasized the idea that those who opposed the regime were too weak to resist for long. This kind of propaganda plays to the masses’ cowardice and herd mentality. Most men take the path of least resistance and would rather stand behind the schoolyard bully as he mocks the weak than resist him. A schoolyard bully is often followed by a cowardly entourage that will laugh compulsively at his jokes.

You might think that comparing pop music videos and American pulp media to the Soviet regime is a bit much, but it makes perfect sense when we acquaint ourselves with the concept of Cultural Marxism – a postmodern branch of communist theory that calls for a revolt against the traditional moral norms of Western Civilization. Cultural Marxism essentially holds that sexual repression is a class issue, and in order to make everyone equal, the masses of misfits must smash the patriarchy and every one of its rigid and repressive rules.

This is clearly the underlying message of Taylor Swift’s video. This isn’t satire about religious Americans. This is an effort to marginalize them as an “other.”

Swift’s “satirical” video stands in sharp contrast to earlier portrayals of Christians in American satire. Take the Evangelical “Ned Flanders” character from “The Simpsons” as an example.

Matt Groening portrays Flanders as dorky, a bit out of touch, and perhaps a bit overzealous from time to time. However, Groening gives Flanders credit for being moral and upright in a culture of moral anomie. For every dozen dorky Christian jokes, Flanders has a moment or two of moral insight and demonstrates his compassion.

Real satire is marked by its capacity and eagerness to critique the existing regime and culture. The Simpsons portrayed Christian conservatives as an integral part of American society. Swift’s video portrays religious Americans as a backward minority, a group of outsiders that “we” ought to legislate against.

Entertainment that dares not critique the the status quo and instead targets groups that don’t fit in is top-down bullying. When this type of crocodile humor is bound up with political action, as in the music video, “You Need to Calm Down,” it’s quite obvious that the goal is not to critique but to bully and affect political action and cultural revolution.

[Image Credit: YouTube]


Student Loan Debt And No Degree: A Crisis For Millions Of Borrowers : NPR

The Just World Fallacy: Why People Bash Assange And Defend Power

Monday, July 22, 2019

It’s Over: The Democrats And The Republicans Are Both Conspiring To Bankrupt America And Destroy Our Future

America, Google and me: My Senate speech


Last week, at the invitation of Sen. Ted Cruz, I spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Google’s having placed more than 60 Prager University videos on its restricted list. Any family that filters out pornography and violence cannot see those particular videos on YouTube (which is owned by Google); nor can any school or library.

This statement is as much about what I and PragerU stand for as it is about Google. Those interested in viewing the presentation can do so here:

It is an honor to be invited to speak in the United States Senate. But I wish I were not so honored. Because the subject of this hearing – Google and YouTube’s (and for that matter, Twitter and Facebook’s) suppression of internet content on ideological grounds – threatens the future of America more than any external enemy.

In fact, never in American history has there been as strong a threat to freedom of speech as there is today.

Before addressing this, however, I think it important that you know a bit about me and the organization I co-founded, Prager University – PragerU, as it often referred to.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My late father, Max Prager, was a CPA and an Orthodox Jew who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy at the start of World War II. My father’s senior class thesis at the City College of New York was on anti-Semitism in America. Yet, despite his keen awareness of the subject, he believed that Jews living in America were the luckiest Jews to have ever lived.

He was right. Having taught Jewish history at Brooklyn College, written a book on anti-Semitism and fought Jew-hatred my whole life, I thank God for living in America.

It breaks my heart that a vast number of young Americans have not only not been taught how lucky they are to be Americans, but have been taught either how unlucky they are or how ashamed they should be.

It breaks my heart for them because contempt for one’s country leaves a terrible hole in one’s soul and because ungrateful people always become unhappy and angry people.

And it breaks my heart for America because no good country can survive when its people have contempt for it.

I have been communicating this appreciation of America for 35 years as a radio talk show host, the last 20 in national syndication with the Salem Radio Network – an organization that is a blessing in American life. One reason I started PragerU was to communicate America’s moral purpose and moral achievements, both to young Americans and to young people around the world. With a billion views a year, and with more than half of the viewers under age 35, PragerU has achieved some success.

My philosophy of life is easily summarized: God wants us to be good. Period. God without goodness is fanaticism and goodness without God will not long endure. Everything I and PragerU do emanates from belief in the importance of being a good person. That some label us extreme or “haters” only reflects on the character and the broken moral compass of those making such accusations. They are the haters and extremists.

PragerU releases a five-minute video every week. Our presenters include three former prime ministers, four Pulitzer Prize winners, liberals, conservatives, gays, blacks, Latinos, atheists, believers, Jews, Christians, Muslims and professors and scientists from MIT, Harvard, Stanford and a dozen other universities.

Do you think the secretary-general of NATO; or the former prime ministers of Norway, Canada or Spain; or the late Charles Krauthammer; or Philip Hamburger, distinguished professor of law at Columbia Law School, would make a video for an extreme or hate-filled site? The idea is not only preposterous; it is a smear.

Yet, Google, which owns YouTube, has restricted access to 56 of our 320 five-minute videos and to other videos we produce. “Restricted” means families that have a filter to avoid pornography and violence cannot see that video. It also means that no school or library can show that video.

Google has even restricted access to a video on the Ten Commandments … Yes, the Ten Commandments!

We have repeatedly asked Google why our videos are restricted. No explanation is ever given.

But of course, we know why: because they come from a conservative perspective.

Liberals and conservatives differ on many issues. But they have always agreed that free speech must be preserved. While the left has never supported free speech, liberals always have. I therefore appeal to liberals to join us in fighting on behalf of America’s crowning glory – free speech. Otherwise, I promise you, one day you will say, “First they came after conservatives, and I said nothing. And then they came after me. And there was no one left to speak up for me.”

Thank you.


The post America, Google and me: My Senate speech appeared first on WND.


The CIA Wants To Make It Easier To JAIL JOURNALISTS, & Congress Isn't Stopping It

RAY McGOVERN: A Non-Hack That Raised Hillary’s Hackles – Consortiumnews

What The Latest Secret Government File Tells Us About The West's Middle East Policy

What The Latest Secret Government File Tells Us About The West's Middle East Policy 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

California Launches Creepy "Cradle-To-Career" Data System To Track Everything About Children

California Launches Creepy "Cradle-To-Career" Data System To Track Everything About Children 

Twitter Reactivates "Angel Mom" Account After Trump Intervenes

"I've Had Many Strange Experiences In My Life" - Inside Epstein's 'Honey Trap' On E 71st Street

"I've Had Many Strange Experiences In My Life" - Inside Epstein's 'Honey Trap' On E 71st Street 

Twitter Reactivates "Angel Mom" Account After Trump Intervenes

Twitter Reactivates "Angel Mom" Account After Trump Intervenes 

All The World's Religions In One Map

All The World's Religions In One Map 

The CUMULATIVE effect from a child’s first 6 years of 60 vaccines, daily GMOs and fluoridated water –

How the Left Turned Words Into ‘Violence,’ and Violence Into ‘Justice’


Responding to news that journalist Andy Ngo had been beaten by antifa protestors in Portland last month, a woman named Charlotte Clymer tweeted that “Ngo intentionally provokes people on the left to drive his content. Being attacked today on video taken by an actual journalist (because Ngo is definitely not) is the greatest thing that could have happened to his career. You know it. I know it. He knows it. We all know it. Violence is completely wrong, and I find it sad and weak to allow a sniveling weasel like Andy Ngo to get under one’s skin like this, but I’m also not going to pretend this wasn’t Ngo’s goal from the start. I mean, let’s cut the shit here. This is what they do.”

Who is Charlotte Clymer? She is an activist who works at the Human Rights Campaign, America’s “largest LGBTQ civil rights organization,” which supposedly “envision[s] a world where LGBTQ people are ensured equality at home, at work [and] in every community.” Andy Ngo, who has written for Quillette, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and other publications, happens to be gay. So this is where we are right now: A staffer for a human-rights organization dedicated to helping gay people is publicly cheering the beating of a gay man. This should raise an eyebrow.

The idea that one’s disagreement with Ngo’s point of view disqualifies him from the physical protection granted to other ordinary citizens proved to be quite common in the aftermath of Ngo’s beating. Aymann Ismall, a staff writer at Slate, for example, tweeted: “I’d argue what the fear mongering he’s done against Muslims plus the work he’s done to discredit hate crimes, helped create an atmosphere of violence that vulnerable people all have to live through just for being who they are. This is bad, but he’s guilty of worse.” Writer Jesse Singal, responding to this spate of violence apologism among Social Justice progressives, put it best with four words: “awful, awful, awful, awful.

I’d argue what the fear mongering he’s done against Muslims plus the work he’s done to discredit hate crimes, helped create an atmosphere of violence that vulnerable people all have to live through just for being who they are. This is bad, but he’s guilty of worse.

— Aymann Ismail (@aymanndotcom) June 30, 2019


While this odd and unsettling reaction to Ngo’s beating may be dismissed by some as a passing reflex among radicalized culture warriors, it is actually well rooted in leftist academic social theory, which has blurred the distinction between word and action for decades. Under a prevalent view that has emerged from universities in recent years, a wrong opinion is seen as tantamount to a thrown punch or even an indication of a willingness to genocide—which invites the idea that an offended party who throws a real punch (or worse) is simply acting in self-defense. This idea has become so pervasive and is so taken-for-granted at this point that even workaday journalists now pay homage to this academic conceit in their work. In his account of the Portland violence, for instance, New York Times reporter Mike Baker summarized Ngo’s activities thusly:

Mr. Ngo is an independent journalist in the Portland area who works with the online magazine Quillette, a publication which prides itself on taking on ‘dangerous’ ideas…He has a history of battling with anti-fascist groups, with the two sides sharing a mutual antipathy that dates back many months. The conservative journalist has built a prominent presence in part by going into situations where there may be conflict and then publicizing the results.

The subtext is clear: Yes, Ngo got beaten. But c’mon—the guy had it coming.

In a recent episode of the podcast Other Life, an antifa member who is critical of the contemporary movement, Justin Murphy, noted that the blurring of the line between words and deeds is accomplished, to some extent, by creating a daisy chain of linkages, so that a person can be seen as an acceptable target merely because he is associated, in some way, with supposed “fascists.” (Though Murphy is highly critical of antifa’s methods, he still considers himself an antifa supporter, in the sense that he supports the idea of organizing against actual fascism.)

“The model [with antifa] would be, people look into someone like Andy Ngo, and—okay, maybe this guy has never said anything explicitly fascist, but—they look to see who he’s friends with; they look to see where he writes; and simply by virtue of not being within the kind of anti-fascist radical left milieu, that basically is incriminating,” Murphy said. “So the model there would be: this guy’s not particularly a fascist, but he supports—he basically enables fascism. Quillette enables fascism.” This should, perhaps, raise the other eyebrow.

Franz Fanon banner in Minneapolis, 2015.

These ideas aren’t new. In his influential 1961 book, The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon insisted that enemies of colonialism should resort to physical violence against their colonizers, both to effect political liberation and to improve their own mental health. Given the various forms of violence inherent to colonialism, this argument cannot be dismissed out of hand. But Fanon went further: He also wrote of the violence supposedly done by the words of colonizing elites as a spark for revolutionary activity.

This concept creep has been a mainstay of activist manuals ever since. It is evident, for example, in A. K. Thomson’s 2010 Black Bloc, White Riot, which praised “the dynamite Fanon would commit to paper.” Thomson sought to act out the moral logic of The Wretched of the Earth, while imagining the “white middle class” in the role of colonizers. Thomson’s declaration that “at the level of the individual, violence is a cleansing force” is itself an invitation to real violence. Moreover, he extended the idea of violence in a variety of obscure ways, including by larding up his tract with postmodern gibberish, as with the following passage: “Keeping with the ontological thrust of my argument, the conception of violence upon which this work is based presumes two fundamental and correlative attributes. First, violence is the name of the general principle by which objects are transformed through their relationship to other objects. Second (and as a result of the first), violence is both the precondition to politics and the premise upon which it rests.” Since “objects are transformed through their relationship to other objects” by means of deeds, words and thoughts alike, everything—or at least everything the radical left milieu rejects—is violence.

These ideas aren’t merely the gibbering of angry radicals. They have deep roots in leftist academic theory. In 1969, for instance, the Norwegian founder of “peace and conflict studies,” Johan Galtung, published an oft-cited piece titled Violence, Peace, and Peace Research, dedicated to the topic of “structural violence.” “When one husband beats his wife there is a clear case of personal violence,” he offered by way of example. “But when one million husbands keep one million wives in ignorance, there is structural violence.”

Structural violence, by definition, is something everyone participates in, even if it manifests only in the actions of a few, which are then treated as positive proof of the systemic problem that allowed those examples to be produced. We see this assumption and method, for example, in Cornell philosopher Kate Manne’s award-winning and highly praised 2017 book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, wherein misogyny is redefined as a structural force that enforces patriarchy even if no one in particular holds any discriminatory beliefs. This thinking is no longer confined to the academic stratosphere: The crime of so-called “structural violence” was, in effect, the claim made against Ngo by Slate’s Aymann Ismall. The physical attack on the Portland reporter may have been “bad,” but the abstract harm caused by his structurally violent ideas supposedly is “worse.”

These ideas have proven to be so elastic that even the voicing of opposition to antifa itself can somehow be lumped in under the category of violence. As Murphy, the aforementioned antifa supporter, explains: “Any kind of cultural outlet that emerges in critical opposition to…the left-wing orthodoxy—well, the only reason they possibly could be doing that is because they want that left-wing orthodoxy to fail because they have ulterior motives of actually boosting and amplifying fascism, which they define as just whatever’s not the left-wing orthodoxy. So in this twisted worldview, someone like Andy Ngo is a genuine kind of accessory to fascism—even if you can’t find anything on record of him ever saying anything fascist.”

The means by which these fictional forms of violence can be perpetrated are myriad. Gender violence—a prominent subset of the idea of structural violence—arguably originated with Judith Butler’s 1990 landmark text Gender Trouble, and is described as a “violence of categorization.” Queer Theory, following significantly from Butler, accordingly indicates that a form of violence occurs when someone is categorized by sex, gender, or sexuality in a way they feel does not rightly describe them. So queer and trans activists now routinely claim that misgendering is inherently violent. In the words of actress Laverne Cox, “I have been saying for years that misgendering a trans person is an act of violence. When I say that I am referring to cultural and structural violence. The police misgendering and deadnaming trans murder victims as a matter of policy feels like a really good example of that cultural and structural violence.”

Much of this can be connected to the fixation on power relationships that infused many of the influential French thinkers of the Cold War period. In his 1979 book Distinction, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu argued that a kind of symbolic violence occurs whenever social inequality is produced or maintained through “symbolic domination,” which itself is expressed whenever, say, someone is better dressed or better educated than those around him. And since these relationships are part of the world we live in, Bourdieu argued, violence is everywhere within the status quo. His long-time collaborator, sociologist Loïc Wacquant, highlighted the Marxist nature of this idea by arguing that “any capital, whatever the form it assumes, exerts a symbolic violence as soon as it is recognized, that is, misrecognized in its truth as capital and imposes itself as an authority calling for recognition.”

Of note, for Bourdieu, the relevant definition of capital is quite expansive: “Lifestyle is the foremost and perhaps today the most fundamental of these symbolic manifestations, clothing, furnishings, or any other property which, functioning according to the logic of membership and exclusion, makes differences in capital (understood as the capacity to appropriate scarce goods and the corresponding profits) visible under a form such that they escape the unjustifiable brutality of…pure violence, to accede to this form of misrecognized and [denied] violence, which is thereby asserted and recognized as legitimate, which is symbolic violence.” This 1978 passage is characteristically dense and difficult to understand. But the main idea—that “pure violence” is just a taboo subset of violence more generally, and that our system serves to whitewash these larger forms of “symbolic violence”—is well-reflected in the apologia offered on behalf of Andy Ngo’s antifa attackers.

Comb the literature, and you can find all sorts of adjectives tacked on to the word “violence.” This includes something called “discursive violence,” which was described in detail by scholars John Paul Jones, III, Heidi Nast and Susan Roberts in a 1997 volume titled Thresholds in Feminist Geography: Difference, Methodology, Representation. Discursivity, for their purposes, is defined “as those processes and practices through which statements are made, recorded, and legitimated through institutional and other means of linguistic circulation.” Thus, “discursive violence involves using these processes and practices to script groups or persons…in ways that counter how they would define themselves.”

It’s nearly certain, of course, that Ngo’s published articles on Islamism and antifa, both referenced in the wake of his beating, contained ideas and descriptions that “script groups of persons” in all sorts of controversial ways. But then again, that’s what all writers do—including everything that has been written about Ngo, and this article you are reading right now—since any text that challenges the presumptions of the reader will, in some way, fall under one of the broad categories offered by these scholars. Using such infinitely labile typology, all words can be theorized into violence so long as they have something to do with enforcing “domination” and “oppression,” so all real violence taken up in response to such words is self-defense.

Spivak at University of London, 2007

Finally, we get to “epistemic violence,” the brain-child of postmodern Theorist Michel Foucault, who contended that violence is done by asserting power by creating, maintaining and participating in oppressive discourses. This concept is somewhat similar to discursive violence, and was developed considerably by postcolonial Theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in the 1980s, who wrote on the ways in which the marginalized are prevented from being able to speak or have their knowledge considered real. This not only upholds a state in which marginalized people are not recognized as “knowers,” but also furthers the idea that they are unable to speak. (And, one should ask, if one cannot speak to achieve necessary change, what option is left to the silenced?) This idea has been extrapolated into the claim that media that do not reflect and proactively forward the point of view of marginalized voices are, in effect, inherently violent—a category that presumably would swallow up Quillette and a thousand other popular media outlets.

This development on Foucault’s idea, which was most famously put forth at the core of Spivak’s famous 1988 essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” has been taken up by a wide swath of social-justice theorists, including black feminist epistemologist Kristie Dotson. By her further re-conception of epistemic violence, articulated in 2011, this form of violence is “the failure, owing to pernicious ignorance, of hearers to meet the vulnerabilities of speakers in linguistic exchanges.” Since this form of violence is embedded in the passive act of hearing, it not only takes the idea of violence out of the domain of action, but also out of the domain of speech—for Dotson seems to infer the existence of malicious intent within private mental processes, which she envisages as being akin to violence. In a word: thoughtcrime. (Some appreciation for this idea is manifested by those apologists for the beating of Andy Ngo who accused him of provoking antifa by failing to hear the ways in which they claimed his work made them feel “unsafe.”)

There is not a single scholar I have quoted who is not held in considerable esteem in influential sectors of academy to this day (A. K. Thomson should be regarded as an activist, and he’s unlikely to be held in any academic esteem). This is to say that the antifa cheerleaders offering excuses for the beating of Andy Ngo are not intellectual freelancers: Much of what they say would be received appreciatively were it expressed in the form of academic dissertation—or classroom discussion topic—in such fields as, say, gender studies, any critical constructivist approach to epistemology, or postcolonial studies. In this sense, both the barbarism in the streets observed in recently in Portland, and the shocking apologism that followed it, are the predictable result of decades of self-righteous political activism that became reinvented as supposedly legitimate forms of scholarship.


James Lindsay is an author and speaker who holds a doctorate in math and background in physics. He is best known for his role in the Grievance Studies Affair. Follow him on Twitter @ConceptualJames.

Featured image: Pierre Bourdieu, painted portrait

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