Schneiderman on Pinker. Part III.

I cannot imagine a better reviewer for Steven Pinker’s latest treatise on the Enlightenment than cantankerous British philosopher John Gray. When it comes to reading Pinker’s 576 page tome, better him than me.

Gray is well suited to the task because he is not, to say the least, a wild-eyed optimist. We count on him to provide a counterweight to Pinker’s imitation of Dr. Pangloss. Where Pinker looks at glass that is half full and declares it to be full, Gray sees the emptiness within. He holds a tragic view of human existence, one that correlates reasonably well with Freud’s, but not with mine.

Such is life.

Go here.

The US is not abnormal.

 In his address to the nation after the Planned Parenthood attack, Obama claimed:  “I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn’t happen in other countries.

Senator Harry Reid made a similar statement on June 23rd: “The United States is the only advanced country where this type of mass violence occurs.  Let’s do something. We can expand, for example, background checks. … We should support not giving guns to people who are mentally ill and felons.

We prefer not to make purely cross-sectional comparisons, but this claim is simply not true.  The data below looks at the period of time from the beginning of the Obama administration in January 2009 until the end of 2015.  Mass public shootings – defined as four or more people killed in a public place, and not in the course of committing another crime, and not involving struggles over sovereignty.  The focus on excluding shootings that do not involve other crimes (e.g., gang fights or robberies) has been used from the original research by Lott and Landes to more recently the FBI.  We cover the period from the beginning of the Obama administration to the current date, from 2009 to the Charleston massacre (this matches the starting period for another recent study we did on US shootings and we chose that because that was the starting point that Bloomberg’s group had picked).  The cases were complied doing a news search.  The starting year was picked simply because it was the beginning of the Obama administration and it matched the time frame of a recent Bloomberg report (a report that we evaluated here).  A comparison across the entire world is available here.

Read the rest here. Thanks to Instapundit.

More lies about gun violence.

Every time a Muslim terrorist shoots, stabs, bombs or runs over Americans, the default response is, “Let’s not jump to any conclusions”. That’s swiftly followed by media spin pieces claiming that the majority of terrorist attacks are really committed by white male Republicans and the Amish based on math so bad that even the world’s crookedest bookie wouldn’t go near it. And anyone who argues that the pattern of Islamic terror attacks is a call for common sense migration reform is regarded as a racist and a coward who wants to destroy the Constitution by blowing a handful of attacks out of proportion.

Here is the rest.

The totalitarian Left

After publicly addressing liberal taboos and free speech on American college campuses, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor received a condemnatory “open letter” signed by 33 of her colleagues denouncing her views.

Some time after the publication of the open letter attacking Professor Amy Wax, who is UPenn’s Robert Mundheim Professor of Law, the dean of the law school asked her to take a leave of absence next year and to stop teaching a mandatory first-year course, saying he was getting “pressure” to banish the professor for her conservative views.

Professor Wax’s crime consisted in an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer last August in which she and a colleague from the University of San Diego Law School dared to suggest that many of the “bourgeois” values that reigned in America prior to the 1960s were actually good for society and “a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains and social coherence of that period.”

The rest is here.

Some people are barking mad. Transgender, anyone?

People say that we live in a postmodern age that has rejected metaphysics. That’s not quite true.

We live in a postmodern age that promotes an alternative metaphysics. As I explain in “When Harry Became Sally,” at the heart of the transgender moment are radical ideas about the human person—in particular, that people are what they claim to be, regardless of contrary evidence. A transgender boy is a boy, not merely a girl who identifies as a boy.

It’s understandable why activists make these claims. An argument about transgender identities will be much more persuasive if it concerns who someone is, not merely how someone identifies. And so the rhetoric of the transgender moment drips with ontological assertions: People are the gender they prefer to be. That’s the claim.

Transgender activists don’t admit that this is a metaphysical claim. They don’t want to have the debate on the level of philosophy, so they dress it up as a scientific and medical claim. And they’ve co-opted many professional associations for their cause.

Go here, if you can stand reading about this rubbish.

My cities former and current. A real builder.

SYDNEY, N.S. — A Sydney native who went on to become Archbishop Emeritus of Edmonton has died.

Most Rev. Joseph N. MacNeil died Sunday at age 93. He died at Grey Nuns hospital in Edmonton after suffering a stroke.

MacNeil was ordained a priest in 1948 for the Diocese of Antigonish, and went on to earn a doctorate in canon law in Rome. He was named Bishop of the Diocese of Saint John in 1969 and appointed Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Edmonton in 1973.

Archbishop MacNeil served as vice-president and president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and also acted as consultor for several of its offices, as member on the executive committee and what was then called the administrative board, his obituary notes.

MacNeil was also a member of the Congregation for Bishops of the Holy See 1978-1983.

The Cape Breton Post has the story.

A convoluted mess.

There is so much wrong being said about the death of Colten Boushie and the trial of Gerald Stanley, it’s hard to know where to begin.

First off, let me start by saying I covered the North Battleford Provincial Court and Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench from 2004-2008 for the Battlefords News-Optimist, averaging one to three days in any given week. The only people who spent more time in those courts were the court staff, RCMP, security, judges and lawyers.

The rest is here. Thanks to Blazing Cat Fur.

Stuart Schneiderman on Steven Pinker redux

As mentioned, when I offered some preliminary comments about it in aprior post, I have not read the book. Happily for people like me the Guardian has published a substantial excerpt. In it Pinker explains what he means by Enlightenment. We are happy to know. Yet, he still makes significant mistakes. Since no one seems interested in pointing them out, the task falls to me.

The rest is here.

The trouble with socialist healthcare. Worse in the UK.

A year ago, shortly after we moved to St Albert, I found a new physician and went to him to ask for a referral to an otolaryngologist. The hearing in my left ear is going down rather badly, and I need a stapedectomy to remove the stapes and insert a prosthesis in my middle ear. I had the procedure done on my right ear in 1991. My physician sent off a request for a consultation, and on 3 May 2017 I met a semi-retired former surgeon who is a kind of gatekeeper, evaluating people before referring them on. Yesterday I finally met the surgeon who would perform the operation, and he has agreed that I am a good candidate. Then he took me back to the scheduling office, and to my dismay the backlog is between 18 and 24 months. Of course, being retired I can go in at a moment’s notice, so I am on the cancellation waiting list as well. We need a different approach to health care in Canada.

Atheism is the dumbest idea ever invented.

Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker is not merely an important psychologist. He is an important public intellectual. He has gotten into the mind of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and has recruited the billionaire to lend credence to ideas that have little or nothing to do with science. Pinker pretends to use science to advance a liberal political and cultural agenda.

Atheism is the great killer of our time. Judaism and Christianity have taught us to be rational and civil, and have given us a coherent explanation of the beginning of the universe.

Read Stuart Schneiderman’s important comments on Steven Pinker.