Wednesday: Hili dialogue

March 22, 2023 • 6:45 am

It’s a Hump Day (“კეხის დღე” in Georgian), Wednesday, March 22, 2023, and World Water Day  Don’t forget to have your eight glasses today, or suckle on your personal water bottle (not really, as that’s bunk: doctors now say just drink when you’re thirsty unless you have a condition that requires you to drink often.

It’s also National Bavarian Crêpes Day, National Red Cross Giving Day, and International Day of the Seal. Here is a tweet from Dom and then two seal photos I took, the first at a market in the Galápagos and the second in Antarctica. The first is actually a sea lion because it has external ear flaps.

And there’s an animated mime in honor of the 100th birthday of Marcel Marceau. Sadly, I dislike mimes, and he was the model for them all. But to his credit, Marceau worked closely with the French Resistance during WWII and saved many Jewish children from the hands of the Nazis.

Click on gif to go to page:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 22 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*As I write this at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Trump has not yet been indicted, but there are two articles to read about this. The first is at the NYT: “How an indictment and arrest of Donal Trump could unfold,” Now it says that an indictment could come as early as Wednesday (Trump himself said Tuesday). The unknowns include whether the grand jury will vote on a charge, how security will work if Trump is arrested (the Secret Service has to be there at all times), and how Republicans will react (DeSantis has already condemned the Manhattan D.A.)

The other piece is at PoliticoStop overthinking it: an indictment would be bad for Trump.” I would have thought that was self-evident, but apparently lots of people think it would energize his base. Not Alexander Burns.

My colleagues David Siders and Adam Wren reported that Republicans expect Trump to get a short-term boost from the indictment because it will energize his core supporters. That is probably true.

But those supporters are a minority of the country, as Republicans have learned the hard way several times over. Stimulating Trump’s personal following was not enough to save the House for his party in 2018 or to defend the White House and the Senate in 2020, or to summon a red wave in 2022.

Trump needs to grow his support, not merely rev up people who already care deeply about his every utterance and obsession. It is not likely that many Americans who are not already part of Trump’s base will be inspired to join it because they feel he is being mistreated by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

It is hard for a candidate to tell voters “I’m with you” when he is mainly consumed with narrow, personal complaints and crackpot conspiracy theories. Plenty of Americans can see themselves in an older white man scorned by liberals and the media for his crude manner and bigoted ideas. Fewer are likely to see themselves in a wealthy husband paying hush money to conceal his debauched sex life and whining about the unfairness of his circumstances in every public outing.

One can hope!

*The Presidents of China and Russia, Putin and Xi, had a meeting about Ukraine, but apparently not much happened. As the Washington Post reports, the two countries confirmed their mutual economic and political alliance, but there was no progress on China’s plan for peace in Ukraine, a plan that Zelensky has rejected:

Putin and Xi, in comments to reporters in Moscow, suggested no forward motion on China’s peace plan. That was expected, given that it did not address Russia’s continuing occupation of Ukrainian territory. The authoritarian leaders, positioned to rule for life, did not take questions.

Putin said much of China’s 12-point plan corresponds with Russia’s view and could form the basis of a future peace agreement, but only when Kyiv and the West were ready. “However, we are seeing no such readiness on their part,” he said.

In a joint statement, the leaders said Russia was willing to resume peace talks, as the Kremlin has been saying for months. Russian officials have said repeatedly that Ukraine must accept new political “realities,” suggesting they would stop the war only if Kyiv surrendered large swaths of sovereign territory and gave up on reclaiming Crimea, which Russia invaded in 2014 and has occupied since.

Xi said China has taken an unbiased position on the conflict based stands for peace and dialogue. “We are steadily guided by the goals and principles of the U.N. Charter,” the Chinese leader said. “We adhere to an objective and impartial position.”

Look at that euphemism: “new political realities” is code talk for “Putin’s decided he wants at least the eastern half of Ukraine.” As for being guided by the goals and principles of the U.N. Charter, well,

“the U.N. General Assembly voted 141-7 last month to demand Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine and adherence to the charter. China was among 32 nations that abstained.”

There’s no reason for Zelensky to accept this “new political reality”,  so any preace that involves the Ukraine giving up land appears, at least for now, untenable.

*Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is being given an honorary doctorate by the University of Helsinki. She may, at age 20, be the youngest person ever to get an honorary doctorate, but what I find amusing is that the doctorate is in theology. WHY IS THAT?

The Conferment Jubilee of the University of Helsinki commences on 20 March 2023 with the announcement of the University’s new honorary doctors. In the spring, the Faculty of Philosophy, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Faculty of Theology and the Faculty of Law will celebrate the conferral of degrees.

As per tradition, the title of doctor honoris causa, the University’s highest recognition, will be awarded, in connection with the conferment ceremonies, to several individuals. This year, a total of 30 distinguished individuals from around the world will be conferred as honorary doctors.

Faculty of Theology to confer eight honorary doctorates on 9 June 2023

Riho Altnurme, Professor of Church History, Vice-Dean for Research, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Tartu

Maria Immonen, MA, Director of the Department of World Service, Lutheran World Federation (LWF)

Mia Lövheim, Professor of the Sociology of Religion, Uppsala University

Greta Thunberg, activist

Munib Younan, Bishop Emeritus, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, Former President of The Lutheran World Federation

Annabel Brett, Professor, Co-director of Cambridge Centre for Political Thought, University of Cambridge

Grace Davie, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Exeter

Philip Esler, Professor, Portland Chair in New Testament Studies, University of Gloucestershire

All of these have something to do with religion (Grace Davie is a sociologist of religion) except for La Thunberg. Is she religious? I don’t find that on the Internet. They could have given her a degree in philosophy instead.  On the other hand, maybe theology is a broader subject in a country where most people are atheists.

*On his own Substack site, Stephen Knight reports that “Richard Dawkins refuses to give an inch to the mob.” Is Richard the new J. K. Rowling? Knight first refers to this tweet that got Dawkins demonized for no good reason:

Knight adds:

This resulted in the usual chorus of online screeching from the Anime Avatar Army and the Pronoun Mafia. But what was especially disappointing was witnessing several American atheist and humanist organisations completely beclown themselves too. You would hope organisations that exist to defend open inquiry and critical thinking in the face of religious dogma would possess greater immunity to new-born faith-based movements. Sadly not it seems.

But Dawkins will not be silent!

Anyhow, fast forward a couple of years later and it’s wonderful to see this experience hasn’t weakened the professor’s grip on reality. He can be seen reiterating some basic scientific facts about sex and advocating for the crime of ‘discussion’ in this clip from Piers Morgan’s show:

Of course, this has once again triggered the very online gender ‘activists’. Which is fine. However it also appears one of the most vocal critics of Dawkins from within American atheist circles, Hemant Mehta has doubled down on his own unreason:


It’s not so great for Hemant to say that the assertion that there are two sexes in humans, which happens to be true, is the “wrong hill to die on.” But Hemant has chosen to die on the hill of political correctness, which he’s calculated brings him more followers, though I’m not one. Knight goes on:

To recap, the ‘hill’ that Richard Dawkins is choosing to ‘die on’ here is scientific fact and the unhinged idea that we should be able to discuss things. Richard Dawkins is 100% correct in his statements. His reasonable utterances annoy people like Hemant because Hemant has been captured by a new religion. Dawkins is guilty of heresy because nothing but unquestioning affirmation of the ‘correct thoughts’ (decided by Hemant) is acceptable. Hemant has become the sort of irrational zealot he has spent much of his time pushing back against. He seems perfectly capable of noticing the anti-scientific claims and intolerance of conservative Christians, but doesn’t have the self-awareness to recognise it in himself.

The continued demonisation of anyone that dares to espouse gender critical views (or simply just ask questions) wouldn’t be so bad were this issue purely an academic one. But it isn’t. This ideology is responsible for great harm in the real world. Right here, right now. Past, present and future.

Read the rest at Knight’s site.

*And there’s GOOD news tonight. Neuty the hand-raised Louisiana nutria can stay with his rescuers, despite there being a law against keeping neutrias as pets.

After much public outcry, state officials now say they will let a Louisiana couple keep a 22-pound nutria — a beady-eyed, orange-toothed, rat-tailed rodent commonly considered a wetlands-damaging pest — as a pet that frolics with their dog, snuggles in their arms and swims in the family pool.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in a statement Friday, said Myra and Denny Lacoste are being allowed to apply for a permit so they can legally keep Neuty the Nutria in their New Orleans home, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported. Montoucet said details of the permit are being finalized.

The announcement came after more than 17,000 people signed an online petition demanding that the state leave Neuty and his family alone.

“I think this is a good conclusion for all sides,” Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jack Montoucet said.

The rodent has been living with the Lacostes for more than two years. The wildlife department initially said Thursday that it had arranged for the animal to be transported to the Baton Rouge Zoo, citing state law banning the ownership of a nutria, which is considered an invasive species. But after the response, the agency provided special conditions allowing the family to keep the nutria as a pet within the law, according to the newspaper.

I would have been ticked off had Louisiana not had a heart about this. In case you don’t know what neutrias (Myocastor coypus) are, they’re semi-aquatic rodents native to South America that have become (I have to use the word) invasive in the U.S. (they were introduced for fur farming but escaped) and are infamous for destroying wetlands and chewing human stuff. But Neuty wouldn’t do that!

Here’s Neuty with his human staff:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, it’s unusually warm today (15° C):

A: What are you looking at?
Hili: I’m looking at global climate change.
In Polish:
Ja: Na co tak patrzysz?
Hili: Na globalne zmiany klimatyczne.

Meanwhile, Baby Kulka is getting juiced for warmer weather.

Caption: Kulka is feeling spring. (In Polish: “Kulka poczuła wiosnę.”)


From Cats, Beavers, and Ducks via Merilee. Can you spot the spotter? The caption is, “He sees you.”

A B. Kliban cartoon from Stash Krod:

From Richard. I find this hilarious, especially when you remember how you licked the frosting beater when you were a kid. It’s right on the money!

A tweet from Masih:

From Barry: A fish gets its revenge!

From Simon, who says, “I could have lived without the visual, but now I have to share this”:

From Malcolm; don’t ask me about the genetics (I think the blue eye might have been color enhanced):

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a girl gassed at 14:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a small carnivorous marsupial:

Here’s a photo of the beast above (source here):

Me too!

Crikey! And it was Nature that published the best scientifically based refutation of astrology (here).

46 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. One of the people who claim to support critical thinking, but have been hoodwinked by gender ideology is Dr Steven Novella (he’s a medical doctor, astonishingly). The second part of a piece was just published which is worth reading.
    Part one is here. There was a pretty long delay between the two parts.

      1. I have been following him since around 2000, and was a big fan of him until recently. I just did not want to write an essay about it here. If you follow the link I have left a comment detailing my opinions about Novella, both good and bad.

      2. I am more than familiar with Novella, I started listening to his podcast at least 15 years ago. Hid descent into nonsense is a shame, he and his brothers taught me a lot about critical thinking with his SGU podcast.Those days are long gone. This may be a duplicate comment, so apologies.

    1. I think the joke is that it’s absurd. Not only giant cockroaches from space — but they need, of all things, a toaster. You’re not supposed to find a logical connection. That’s the point.

      Or maybe it has something to do with crumbs. I don’t know.

  2. There were two bloggers who failed to make it into the big time (not having anything original to say) in the heady days of New Atheism. It’s hard to say which of them became the more bitter and spiteful, but both took a hard turn into social justice as a way of thumbing their nose at those who were worth reading. You can fill in the names yourselves…

  3. In honor of Thunberg, I have come up with a new term for the climate gang: Climillerites (climate + Millerite).

    1. Maybe the honorary degree in theology is a sly dig at her religious-grade fanaticism, especially now that she’s come out as a communist. And recipients of honorary degrees are supposed to make a big donation to the university, aren’t they? Where do you suppose a 20-year-old gets that kind of money?


        As an aside, it’s not correct to say that most Finns are atheists. About a fifth to a quarter of legal permanent residents are. The rest are roughly equally split between belief in a traditional Christian God and a vague life-force (which sounds to me supernatural, so god-like) that pervades the universe. The latter is gaining slowly on the former and atheism is gaining also.

        The Lutheran Church and one other tiny Christian sect are supported by the taxes of registered adherents. 30% of Finns have resigned from these denominations, a number that exceeds the number of atheists. Attendance at weekly services is very low among Lutheran adherents but Finns seem OK with official religiosity like school prayer and invocations at public ceremonies.
        A university faculty of theology in Finland would seem to have a fair bit of material to work with, (whatever work it is that theology schools actually do.). Finland is also consistently the world’s happiest country, which has to be indicative of something or other.

        1. Your comment reminds me that, after earning an undergraduate degree at Harvard and doing a tour of duty in Vietnam, Al Gore spent some time at the Vanderbilt U divinity school.

          During the 1988 Democratic presidential primary season, eventual nominee Michael Dukakis campaigned hard on the so-called “Massachusetts Miracle” that had taken place during his terms as the Bay State’s governor. Now, I’ve never thought of Al Gore as much of a wag, but I’ve gotta concede he did get off a pretty good line by telling Dukakis at a debate that, during his days in divinity school, they adhered to a somewhat stricter definition of the term “miracle.” 🙂

  4. I worry what Dawkins’ stand on two sexes will mean for future theatrical adaptations of The Selfish Gene.

  5. One notable birthday: Leonard Marx, 1887 (died 11 October 1961), the brother known as “Chico”. His nickname was not pronounced “cheek-o”; the first syllable rhymed with “thick”. He got it because he was a notorious womanizer (i.e., always after chicks).

  6. On this day:

    A busy day in the colonies…

    1621 – The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony sign a peace treaty with Massasoit of the Wampanoags.

    1622 – Jamestown massacre: Algonquians kill 347 English settlers around Jamestown, Virginia, a third of the colony’s population, during the Second Anglo-Powhatan War.

    1631 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony outlaws the possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables.

    1638 – Anne Hutchinson is expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent.

    1765 – The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act that introduces a tax to be levied directly on its American colonies.

    1794 – The Slave Trade Act of 1794 bans the export of slaves from the United States, and prohibits American citizens from outfitting a ship for the purpose of importing slaves.

    1896 – Charilaos Vasilakos wins the first modern Olympic marathon race with a time of three hours and 18 minutes.

    1933 – Cullen–Harrison Act: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an amendment to the Volstead Act, legalizing the manufacture and sale of “3.2 beer” (3.2% alcohol by weight, approximately 4% alcohol by volume) and light wines.

    1933 – Nazi Germany opens its first concentration camp, Dachau.

    1945 – The Arab League is founded when a charter is adopted in Cairo, Egypt.

    1963 – The Beatles release their debut album Please Please Me.

    1972 – The United States Congress sends the Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification.

    1972 – In Eisenstadt v. Baird, the United States Supreme Court decides that unmarried persons have the right to possess contraceptives.

    1997 – Comet Hale–Bopp reaches its closest approach to Earth at 1.315 AU.

    2016 – Three suicide bombers kill 32 people and injure 316 in the 2016 Brussels bombings at the airport and at the Maelbeek/Maalbeek metro station.

    2017 – A terrorist attack in London near the Houses of Parliament leaves four people dead and at least 20 injured.

    1599 – Anthony van Dyck, Flemish-English painter and etcher (d. 1641).

    1785 – Adam Sedgwick, English scientist (d. 1873).

    1868 – Robert Andrews Millikan, American colonel and physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1953).

    1912 – Wilfrid Brambell, Irish actor and performer (d. 1985).

    1930 – Stephen Sondheim, American composer and songwriter (d. 2021).

    1931 – William Shatner, Canadian actor.

    1963 – Deborah Bull, English ballerina.

    1976 – Reese Witherspoon, American actress and producer.

    Sooner or later everyone dances with the Duck of Death:
    1832 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, and diplomat (b. 1749).

    2001 – William Hanna, American animator, director, producer, and voice actor, co-founded Hanna-Barbera (b. 1910).

    2018 – Johan van Hulst, Dutch politician, academic and author, Yad Vashem recipient (b. 1911). [In 1943, with the help of the Dutch resistance and students of the nearby University of Amsterdam, he was instrumental in saving over 600 Jewish children from the nursery of the Hollandsche Schouwburg who were destined for deportation to Nazi concentration camps. For his humanitarian actions he received the Yad Vashem distinction Righteous Among the Nations from the State of Israel in 1973.]

    2019 – Scott Walker, British-American singer-songwriter (b. 1943).

  7. Ok, like Jeremy, I don’t get the cockroach/toaster joke. Neither does Bing chat. I’m mortified.

  8. Go to Hemant Mehta twitter and watch the next entry with a sloth. At the end of the iterview, the reporter tacks something on at the very end. About religious persecution.

  9. I think we have found a new .. what, argument fallacy? The “hill” one is “dying on”. Namely, the opponent is “dying on”. If you’re stuck, just say its a hill they are dying on. I’ll try some example dialogues :

    “Numbers are either odd or even”.
    “Oh sure, if that’s the hill you want to die on.”

    “People are either right or left handed.”
    “Oh sure, if that’s the hill you want to die on.”

    And something more complex – trying to express a mathematical idea alongside the appeal to nature – perhaps a mathematician might correct this :

    “There are important exceptions to common rules, such as the square root of negative numbers ( sqrt(-1)=i ), but this does not tell us any moral truth about the positive or negative sign.”
    “Oh sure, if that’s the hill you want to die on.”

    … etc.

    1. Expressions even if hackneyed should bear some fidelity to the real-life referent. I first heard the expression in the first decade of this century in connection with the argument about whether hospitals could compel nurses to be vaccinated against influenza (to protect patients) or be suspended without pay. The Ontario nursing union argued that the evidence that vaccination of nurses reduced the risk of severe influenza in their patients wasn’t compelling. The hospitals argued that since the risk of dangerous vaccine complications was very low, and smaller than the risk of an unvaccinated nurse herself dying of flu, nurses ought to accept vaccination as long as there was some evidence that it protected the patients they had a duty to.

      Some hospital administrators wanted to take a firm stand and were spoiling for a fight. “Let the union grieve!”. Others pointed out that suspending non-compliant nurses could leave the hospital short during the annual flu epidemic and these costs might exceed the putative benefit of compelled vaccination. They asked, “Is this a hill we want to die on?”

      This was a real decision in the face of uncertainty with real consequences measured in patient safety and labour relations. The expression encompassed both the uncertainty that the argument would prevail at a grievance tribunal and the possibility that success could do more harm than good.

      For someone to use it merely to imply an argument is weak, absent any thought of consequences, is to overlook what is involved in dying in a battle for a hill in real life.

    2. Re: “People are either right or left handed.” Is there no such thing as mixed dominance? I write with my left hand, but there are many tasks I must do with my right hand, such as using scissors (left-handed scissors are useless to me), and many tasks I find are easily done with either hand.

  10. “Sadly, I dislike mimes. . . .”

    Yes, there’s definitely something creepy about mimes. But then, I feel the same way about Greta Thunberg.

      1. And you can drive the spike home by pointing out that even if both parts of the ovotestis were fertile, each cell lineage would still make male gametes or female gametes and not some different or intermediate gamete that would constitute a third sex. Fertilization, even if in vitro, would still have to occur in the usual dimorphic manner.

        Even in animals like some parasitic helminths that are naturally hermaphroditic, the male parts are distinguished from the female parts. They just reside in the same individual.

        I suggest a bumper sticker: “Hermaphroditism does not disprove the Sex Binary!”

    1. “As a biologist, there are two sexes and that’s all there is to it.” – R. Dawkins

      His statement mustn’t be misconstrued as implying that all individuals are either male or female (throughout their lives), because it is perfectly compatible with sequential hermaphroditism (first male, then female, or vice versa), with simultaneous hermaphroditism (both male and female), and even with asexuality (sexlessness, i.e. being neither male nor female).

    2. For clarity, you should at least say “discrete spectrum” to differentiate from continuous spectra.

  11. Tangentially connected to Dawkins, but it comes up a lot on this blog, I wonder if and how far “wokeness”—I’m not entirely comfortable with that term given the way that the political right uses it—has spread outside the English-speaking world. I’m embarrassed to say that English is my only language. Maybe other, better informed readers can comment.

    1. “I’m not entirely comfortable with that term given the way that the political right uses it”

      Could you elaborate? This is not the first time a commenter has voiced this sentiment, and I am not sure that I understand it. I have never read or heard, for example, a right-winger denounce as woke the support of abortion rights. Nor the support of a more progressive income tax. Nor the support of ranked-choice voting. I could go on. Their targets, at least in my experience, are the same targets that we discuss here—mostly dealing with race and gender.

      The closest I have seen to misuse of the word is the criticism of climate change activism as “woke”, but even there it is usually aimed at the hysteria among some activists (“we have seven years left to live if we don’t do something!’), the same type of hysteria that animates “trans children are dying!”, “white supremacy is everywhere!”, “rape culture controls our campuses!”.

      1. It seems to me that the American right uses “woke” as a meaningless but emotionally-laden placeholder for anything that they want to demonize. DeSantis’ Florida has been making news for wanting to minimize or to ignore slavery and racism in US history in the name of fighting “woke indoctrination” (e.g., but there are also the Don’t Say Gay, Don’t Say Period, anti-drag laws and more. I don’t want to be associated with such inexcusable politics if I complain about “wokeness”,

        OTOH, we have all read about the authoritarian, censorious, puritanical elements of the US and UK left, and I know personally some people who have gone all-in. I’m not sure what to call them if not the “woke left”. The “Millenial left”? The “illiberal left”? I think of myself as being on the left but not -that- corner of the left.

        At least that’s how I see it. It’s hardly a shock that political rhetoric does more to obscure than to clarify. “To be precise is to make it as easy as possible for others to prove one wrong.” —Timothy Williamson

        But maybe the real lesson here is that I should write more focused comments in the first place. 😉

        1. Thanks, Mike. Historian posted a link below to exactly that type of obscure, emotionally-laden political rhetoric. What, precisely I wonder, makes a corporation “woke”—its left-wing political stance on some particularly contentious issues but not on others, or its public flaunting of said political stance, or the attempt to use corporate power to coerce others to adopt a given political stance, etc.?

          As to American politics, I no longer trust any news source without checking primary documents on items that interest me. The disconnect between reporting and the actual legislation or policy that is being discussed can be stark. One would think that various groups have agendas! Such behavior on both sides of the spectrum disgusts me. Still, I can link arms with a Noam Chomsky one day and a Ron DeSantis another. The left-right / liberal-conservative characterization of the political world is increasingly out-of-date.

        1. Thanks, Historian. To what degree the twice-mentioned “woke” in this confused piece has to do with the fact of paying for travel for abortions–versus ire at corporations for taking well-trumpeted public stances on paying for such travel–I find impossible to tell. I accept it can be either or both.

          I think that this piece ties in nicely with the concerns that Jerry voiced on science journals doing political endorsements. When an organization or social group is perceived as taking public and partisan political stances on contentious issues, then it can diminish its credibility in its core domain (it can also increase it among like-minded partisans, which suggests what many people mean by “credible”). “Woke corporations”, “woke elite”, and I would add “woke Science”, would appear in the eyes of this Newsweek writer to be those who have publicly picked sides on contentious issues and, in many cases, tried to coerce others. (See the corporate and sports world response to “bathroom bills” and voting laws, Disney in Florida, etc.)

          In a way, “woke corporation” seems to be doing some of the same work that “white males” does for those who claim a different sort of hegemony. It is an interesting cultural phenomenon.

          1. Calling a business “woke” just because it reimburses employees for travel costs for abortion seems to miss the mark. A hallmark of wokeness is performative insincerity, like acknowledging “stolen” land when you have no intention of giving your own land back, or calling for more blacks to be admitted to medical school as long as you can choose non-black ones for yourself. This initiative, by contrast, actually accomplishes something for the affected women and the business pays for it with its own money (even if it came out of the total compensation budget.). So woke it is not.

            1. Agree with the first part that the Newsweek piece misses the mark, but I don’t agree that “wokeness” must be insincere. The problem is that we have true believers, cynical opportunists, cowards, and bandwagoners all adopting similar political stances and language in public but for very different reasons. The catchall term “woke” will elide differences among these groups.

              It really does remind me more and more of trying to define pornography. Come to think of it, it is also a bit like “cancer”: one name, many diseases, but the layman use of the term oftentimes overlooks this diversity.

  12. Nicholas Spencer’s accommodationist book “Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science and Religion,” which PCC mentioned a couple weeks ago, has received a very interesting review by David Wootton in The Spectator:

    Some excerpts:

    “…Leaving aside the fact that Spenser’s spiritual concerns are what Dennett calls ‘deepities’, words that mean less than they seem, there’s no acknowledgment here of the Christian belief in sin, redemption, incarnation and salvation, of heaven and hell. Of course if you reduce religion to some sort of Spinozist pantheism or Voltairian deism you can smuggle in the spiritual alongside the material while generating only minor, localised conflicts between religion and science. But Judaism, Christianity and Islam have always been at odds with pantheism, and indeed with deism, for the simple reason that they are not merely monotheisms, but also religions of revealed truth, and religions which declare that God has been active in history – revealing his truth being only one of his activities.

    “…This raises a further problem: the disappearance of Enlightenment irreligion from Spencer’s story. Arguing that science and religion are not necessarily in conflict, Spenser sidesteps an obvious follow-up question: what did undermine faith, if it wasn’t science? …The great assault on Christian faith came not from science, not from a denial of creation, but from history. Spinoza, Richard Simon and Voltaire maintained that Moses could not have been the author of the Pentateuch, which could be discarded as an unreliable historical source. Bolder still, Diderot and Hume argued that the odds against a miracle taking place were so high that no human testimony could make it rational to believe in such events. It was much more plausible to presume the supposed witnesses were mistaken, corrupt, or imaginary than to take seriously the claim that Lazarus (or indeed Christ) had risen. Christian faith depended on ignoring such arguments.

    “…Belief in magic, in witchcraft and in miracles fell away because it simply came to seem obvious that there was no space for supernatural events within the natural world. Nature, said Galileo, is ‘inexorable and immutable’. This conviction isn’t really a scientific one but rather a meta-scientific one, and it is this meta-scientific belief, rather than any particular scientific theory, which is destructive of religious faith as it is understood by the monotheistic religions. If there is (as the NOMAtist would claim) no conflict between science and religion, there is an inescapable conflict between belief in a God who is active in the world and the belief everything that happens is explicable according to the workings of an inexorable nature.”

  13. Regards the astrological molecular biologist data, a quick chi-squared test in Excel returns a value of 13.3, P > 0.1, NS. Then there’s the issue of post hoc testing…

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