“Leftists are Motivated by Self-Interest and Envy, Not Compassion: The Evidence” a rough transcript of a video by Edward Dutton

The left wing have a conception of themselves as good, compassionate and kind. They have compassion for the less well-off, who suffer, while conservative people have no compassion.

Findings of Verhulst et al.[1]

What Verhulst et al. found was that being left wing is predicted by being low in agreeableness, low in altruism, low in empathy, i.e., being selfish, low in compassion, and low in conscientiousness – i.e., low in impulse control and rule following, high in neuroticism, mental instability, feeling negative feelings strongly like jealousy and anger, with the feeling that the world is an awful place, and having low self-esteem. Left wingers try to gain self-esteem by claiming to be morally superior and asserting they are left wing in order to seem morally superior.  Neuroticism is associated with the feeling that the world is unfair and wrong. Continue reading

The Clenched Fist

“Look! His fist is e’en clenched in the Communist salute!”

Guy Gilpatric, The Man with the Walrus Mustache (1939)

The raised fist is a primitive gesture of menace that even many animals understand.  Indeed apes raise their fists to threaten violence, so the raised fist is a natural symbol with which to threaten violent revolution.  When brandished by communists, black panthers, feminists, or the organizers of a Latinx graduation ceremony, a raised fist expresses hatred of the system and an intention to smash that system violently, ruthlessly, and with all the righteous fury of revenge. Continue reading

Under the Iron Dome: Thomas Bertonneau on Transcendence

Transcendence was an abiding concern of our late colleague Thomas Bertonneau.  I say concern rather than interest because Tom did not simply study transcendence as an arachnologist studies spiders.   Tom yearned for transcendence and searched for it, much as a mother would yearn and search for a child that was lost in a dangerous wood as the sun was going down.  Tom was oppressed by our modern incarceration in an exclusively immanent world, depressed by the ever-strengthening strictness of our prison guards, and unimpressed by the primitive and perverse antics with which so many prisoners simulate transcendence and pretend that they are free. Continue reading

Fell Doctors and Fell Doctrines

“When . . . I am told that a war is a war of opinions, I am told that it is the most important of all wars.”

Edmund Burke, Letters on a Regicide Peace (1796)

We have the phrase culture war from the German Kulturkampf, a word that is more accurately translated as culture struggle.  A Kulturkampf is a struggle to decide which opinions will be taught as public doctrines.  Public doctrines are the opinions that are taught by official teachers, by the men and women who hold the public office of teacher.  The highest rank in this cadre of official teachers is, of course, the doctor, a certified officer in some minute bureaucratic department of the Ministry of Truth. Continue reading

Metaphysical horror

Perhaps you have experienced this too. You encounter an idea about the way the universe is and recoil from it in pre-rational disgust. “How awful if the world were that way!” I think the first time I felt it was in high school, walking around the gym during lunch break, when I overheard another student claiming to his friend that the past does not really exist, but only in memory. This was my first encounter with presentism, a crude version of it perhaps, but its more elaborate versions still inspire the same instinctive reaction–“What an appalling thought!” My reaction to event ontology–which takes atomism to the extreme and makes events the sole reality, so that nothing ever really persists through time–was similar, as was my reaction to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

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Should you get your kids the COVID vaccine?

I have no ideological commitments either way. To me, this is simply a matter of comparing risks. The probability that a given child will suffer life-threatening side-effects from the vaccine are small; the probability of a given child catching COVID and becoming life-threateningly ill is also small. Neither is zero. We must estimate these probabilities so we can compare them. The following are copied from the notes I composed a couple of weeks ago when the Pfizer vaccine became available to children 5-11. (My children are 7 and 11.) I have not updated my numbers since then; I will do that when I revisit the issue in a couple of weeks. I have no relevant expertise, but have just gone with what I could learn from the CDC website and miscellaneous Google searches. You may consider, critique, or discard it as you like.

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Can Atheism Be Carried Into Practice?

I was listening this afternoon as I drove along to a broadcast on EWTN in which the presenter, Al Kresta, was talking to EWTN host and Catholic psychologist Ray Guarendi about the 3 years he suffered horribly from clinical depression in the early 80’s. His episode of acute depression – for which he was twice hospitalized – was triggered in him by an encounter with a book by an atheist, entitled The Illusion of Immortality. Reading it in preparation for writing a book of his own, Kresta was suddenly overtaken by profound despair. He reflected that the reason the text – which regurgitated arguments he had long before encountered and defeated to his own satisfaction – had such an impact upon him was that the author seemed like a good guy who was simply sincere about his atheism, in a way that most atheists are not.

As Kresta spoke, his offhand phrase “the horror of the atheist notion of reality” hit me really hard. I began almost to weep at the image of that notion, carried through (in the imagination only) to reality – treated, i.e., as if it were really true (as if that could even happen). This feeling, of horrified tears at being perched for the first time in my life at the edge of a precipice that verged upon an abyss of pain without bottom, persisted throughout the conversation between Kresta and Guarendi. I could feel a boundless ontological void opening beneath me, unlike any I had ever suspected.

It was the horrible vacuum in which nothing can have any meaning, purpose, or point, and nothing is therefore worth anything; in which, i.e., nothing can be about anything, or for anything; in which nothing is any good.

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