Friday, 30 November 2012

Who is NOT over-promoted, in the over-promoted society


Continuing from


In a world of declining general intelligence, not everybody is over-promoted with respect to intelligence.

Some people have the level of intelligence which would have been commensurate with their position in society about a hundred years ago.

Who are these people?


They are those of very high intelligence (by modern standards) but low conscientiousness and agreeableness (low empathizing).

In other words, they are intelligent people with awkward personalities that mean on the one hand they do not get promoted (because they have awkward personalities); while on the other hand they do not want promotion (because they know enough to recognize that that they are not capable of functioning properly at a higher level than they already are at. Not that others could do better - they cannot - but that they themselves could not do the job properly.).

Such not-over-promoted people actually understand what they are doing at the level at which they are doing it; and can provide a critique of what has happened and what has gone wrong.


I don't want to be too specific - but the handful of people I know who are potential geniuses (or unrecognized geniuses) are all functioning at lower levels than would have been commensurate with their abilities 100 years ago. (This is, I think, due to the trend for requring ever higher levels of docility, obedience and friendliness/ non-abrasiveness from employees of bureaucracies).

And I know of many more people of very high intelligence who are at the level where they would have been 100 years ago - but (becuase of the general delcine in g) are consequently of one-standard-deviation-plus higher in intelligence than their modern co-workers at the same level.

Also, I know of quite a few people of very high intelligence who are pretty much unemployable in modern conditions - however, perhaps that was always the case, perhaps there always were such people.


Is "love thy neighbour" work for the salvation of others? And our main *job* in this worldly life?


Many thanks to those who contributed ideas to yesterday's 'bleg' for understanding of the second great commandment: 'love thy neighbour'.

My sense is that it is all this, and more.

As one of the greatest commandments, I feel that 'love thy neighbour' must be about more than my own personal salvation (which is, presumably, 'covered' by the commandment to love Christ as lord and saviour).


I feel that if the commandment to love God is first, and is about our own salvation - then the second commandment must be more than a condition placed upon our salvation (I mean more than just another thing we must do in order to be saved, and if we do not do it then we will not be saved).

In other words, I feel that the commandment to love thy neighbour is not mostly (or only) about ourselves, but also (and mainly) about the neighbour; and since LTN is a commandment of God, then it must be about the salvation of the neighbour (and not 'merely' his worldly happiness).


Yet, it is clear that salvation is individual - in the sense that each individal soul must - by free will - accept the salvation which Christ has won for us.

So, I have devised a metaphor (story, parable - what you will) for my own use; by which I explain to myself how, on the one hand, my love of others is primarily for their good (not mine); and, on the other hand, how this might work in terms of them choosing salvation for themselves.


From the Eastern Orthodox, I take the idea that after death the soul is escorted by two angels through various demonic temptations after which a choice is made: Heaven or Hell.

This choice is influenced by Christian prayers for the dead.

For the traditional Orthodox these prayers are operative in worldly time, during forty days following death, after which the choice is made (the first judgment - which may be revised at the second coming).

But from a more Roman Catholic (and philosophical) tradition of understanding I take the idea that these prayers operate via eternity (prayers from time address God in eternity, for whom all time is as one) - so that prayers for the dead at any time may operate at any time - whether in the future or retrospectively.


So I imagine the soul after death brought to a point of decision: Heaven or Hell, and there being all manner of accumulated sins, bad habits and temptations which would lead that person to choose Hell.

Against this are the benefits of Christian life, prayers for the dead (prayers from past, present and future - coming together at this point); and love from other people - from 'neighbours'.

But how could this work?


Well, perhaps the person is made aware of the love of those who have loved him in life on earth - even when that love was not known during life on earth, even when that love was not reciprocated during life on earth.

The soul becomes aware that those who loved him want him to choose Heaven, not Hell.


Or, in a weaker sense, those who loved him advise him to choose God. They do not compel the decision (any more than in real life) - the will is free to choose Hell, despite the advise of those who love him.

(And indeed this often happens in earthly life - as when a foolish and impulsive teenager rejects wise and loving advice from those with experience; and embarks upon a course of deliberate sinfulness, or inversion of good and evil.)

But we are (or should be) more likely to take the advise of those who love us, then the advice of those whose motivations may be malign.

The choice remains free. Nonetheless, love is a factor in the decision.


So, some will refuse God despite the awareness of the desire of those who love him.

But, it is an advantage, perhaps a crucial advantage (a factor among other factors) - indeed perhaps the difference between salvation and damnation - for the soul after death to become aware of the love of those who loved him during life.


Perhaps this could be envisaged to work in terms of love making itself known to the dead soul, and the soul deciding at that point whether to reciprocate that love - which is salvation; or reject that love - which is damnation.


Thus the first commandment (to love God) is seen as our eternal destiny, as the decision each must make, and must make for himself; while the second commandment (to love neighbour) is (from that moment of choosing to love God) our salvific job on earth: the most important thing we could possibly do.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Why love thy neighbour? A bleg


And the second is like it, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, upon these hang all the law and the prophets.


But why should I love my neighbour (as myself)?

I mean why from the perspective of salvation.

This I have always found difficult to understand - indeed I have't found what strikes me as a good explanation.


That I must love my neighbour is clear - it is a commandment, I don't need to understand it but to do it.

However, it is such a big thing, and I find it hard to make sense of - the sense of it does not come naturally or easily to me.


I have therefore had to do a bit of theology for myself - which I will explain later (if necessary) - but first I would like to hear from others about how they explain the salvific necessity of LTN - how it fits in with the scheme of things...


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The feebleness of human reason


Human reason is a feeble thing.

We need it, we must use it - but it is terribly error prone when extended beyond the simple drawing of direct inferences.


And reason only reasons-from - that which it reasons-from is primary; and all reasoning ultimately depends upon axioms, and the only axioms which we have any reason to believe as true are those which we believe are divine revelations.

So that is the basis of all.


Divine revelation is what reason reasons-from; and it is only by revelation that we could regard reason as itself true.


(And if divine revelations are denied, regarded as impossible or nonsense; then there is no basis for reason - and the consequence is nihilism, must be nihilism).


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Hobbit Talk


I am always surprised at how few Tolkien fans have read the early drafts of Lord of the Rings published as volumes 6-9 of the History of Middle Earth edited by Christopher Tolkien. 

C.S Lewis complained that the first drafts of had too much 'Hobbit talk' - and below is one of the more extreme examples, which ended-up on the cutting room floor.

Note: 'Bingo' became Frodo; 'Odo' became Pippin; but 'Frodo' was replaced by Sam - who has a very different character and background. 


Odo was not thinking about hobbit-history. He merely wanted to know where to look for the farm. If Farmer Maggot had lived in a hole, there would have been rising ground somewhere near; but the land ahead looked perfectly flat.

‘He lives in a house,’ answered Frodo. ‘There are very few holes in these parts. They say houses were invented here. Of course the Brandbybucks have that great burrow of theirs at Bucklebury in the high bank across the River; but most of their people live in houses. There are lots of those new-fashioned brick houses – not too bad, I suppose, in their way; though they look very naked, if you know what I mean: no decent turf-covering, all bare and bony.'

‘Fancy climbing upstairs to bed!’ said Odo. ‘That seems to me most inconvenient. Hobbits aren’t birds.’

‘I don’t know,’ said Bingo. ‘It isn’t as bad as it sounds; though personally I never like looking out of upstairs windows, it makes me a bit giddy. There are some houses that have three stages, bedrooms above bedroom. I slept in one once long ago on a holiday; the wind kept me awake all night.’

‘What a nuisance, if you want a handkerchief or something when you are downstairs, and find it is upstairs,” said Odo.

‘You could keep handkerchiefs downstairs, if you wished,’ said Frodo.

‘You could, but I don’t believe anybody does.’

‘That is not the houses’ fault,’ said Bingo; ‘it is just the silliness of the hobbits that live in them. . . .  If ever I live in a house, I shall keep everything I want downstairs, and only go up when I don’t want anything; or perhaps I shall have a cold supper upstairs in the dark on a starry night.’

‘And have to carry plates and things downstairs, if you don’t fall all the way down,’ laughed Odo.

‘No!’ said Bingo. ‘I shall have wooden plates and bowls, and throw them out of the window. There will be thick grass all round my house.’

‘But you would still have to carry your supper upstairs,’ said Odo.

‘O well then, perhaps I should not have supper upstairs,’ said Bingo. ‘It was only just an idea. I don’t suppose I shall ever live in a house. As far as I can see, I am going to be just a wandering beggar.’

This very hobbit-like conversation went on for some time. 


J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the Shadow (1988), pp. 92-93. Vol. 6 of The History of Middle-earth, ed. C.Tolkien. H/T to  for transcribing the above.


Tolkien later wrote that he was 'personally immensely amused by hobbits as such, and can contemplate them eating and making their rather fatuous jokes indefinitely...'

I find I agree, on the whole; and have always found the Shire parts of LotR among my favourite parts of the book.

For those who share this taste, there is a great deal to enjoy in the first and last volumes of Christopher Tolkien's books on the History of the Lord of the Rings. 



What keeps me a Christian?


Two things, I think, stand out.

They are almost opposites; and sometimes one is more important, sometimes the other - sometimes one fails and I am rescued by the other.

1. Christianity - as an 'intellectual system', understood by reason - is the only thing which makes complete sense of everything.

2. Personal experiences of answered prayers and everyday miracles.


How to simplify over-complex systems


[Following from ]

In the long run, institutions cannot be more complex than the understanding of their leaders; thus, because the intelligence of leaders has declined, institutional complexity must reduce.

But the complexity must be reduced by great individual (specific human) reformers building-up complexity from core principles which they can understand

- and not therefore by condensation of the complexity into simplified general schemata (however this condensation might be attempted, by whatever means - currently usually statistical).

Building-up is the only thing that works because it preserves core functionality.


A positive example of what must happen was the method by which the complexity of Christianity was reduced by The Reformation, while preserving 'functionality' (salvation).

Since the Christian tradition had become so corrupt in the West, the religion was simplified to scriptural principles (by the inspired work of individual geniuses) and re-built from that base.


But the many recent institutional simplifications I have experienced professionally in education and health services have been damaging failures, precisely because they fail to preserve core functionality.

(e.g. Health service 'reforms' which severely damage the doctor-patient relationship and impose government objectives; teaching 'reforms' which reduced the amount of teaching and increase class sizes; college admission 'reforms' which impose inverse discrimination; research 'reforms' like peer review and research evaluation systems, which punish truth-seeking and truth-speaking.)

The failure to preserve core functionality is denied and lied about, and core function is redefined and redefined ('mission statements'); but the destruction is real, of course.  


Monday, 26 November 2012

The Watersons - Sound your instruments of joy!



The Watersons were one of my absolute favourite folk groups during that phase of my youth - and for obvious reasons (if you listen to the above link).

They were three siblings and a cousin (later replaced by a husband) who sang unaccompanied in four part harmony, using an open-throated style that sometimes sounds more like a consort of Crumhorns than modern singing.

Their material was a mixture of pastoral, folk and ritual songs; with a generous measure of revivalist hymns and carols - such as the above.

The basic harmonies are simple enough (although they sometimes spontaneously used harmonies pretty much 'forbidden' in classical music, like open fifths) - but what really adds spice is that they did quite a bit of sliding from note to note (technically portamento) which generates all kinds of transient dissonances and resolutions, especially on the way to cadences.

Their concert I attended in Congresbury, Somerset 1976 or 77 was without doubt one of the premier musical events of my life - in the intimate setting of a small club.


The pyramid of technology, and of intellectual functions


[Following on from ]

There seems to be a pyramid of technology which corresponds to a pyramid of intellectual functions in large complex modern societies.

The peak of the pyramid is the high level of general intelligence (g) needed to make qualitative improvements in social functioning: breakthroughs.


This is the pyramid:

Breakthrough (qualitative)
Improvement (incremental)


What I am talking-about are those key factors which could be termed 'technology' in the broadest sense:

these would include forms of social organization (government, religion), food production - including agriculture, warfare and defence, and so on.

Whatever are the key functions upon which society depends.


The pyramid is most obvious for those complex technologies which led to the emergence of modern societies (the technologies of the linked agricultural and industrial revolutions) and upon which modern societies depend.

Modernity arose due to frequent breakthroughs and improvements - these breakthroughs in 'technology' enabling production to outgrow population growth for many generations.

But underneath it all was the breakthroughs.


So the breakthrough is the invention of something qualitatively new - some piece of machinery, some concept, a form of organization... This (as a rule) requires genius - a combination of very high intelligence and creativity.

This breakthrough is then incrementally improved - this does not require such high intelligence, nor does it require creativity - but can be done by 'trial and error'.

Sooner or later the entity (the piece of technology, the social institution) will wear-out, get broken or dissipate entropically, and need to be replaced - this may require workshops, factories, systems of apprenticeship, colleges - these need to be generated and made to work.

And, as it is being used or operating, from time to time the entity needs to be repaired. This is easier than replacing it, and the repair process may be broken down into specific checks and tasks.

But simply operating the entity, working the technology or working-in an institution, requires less capability than repair.

Nonetheless, there are people who cannot operate; they lack the requisite ability - they are sub-functional with respect to that specific 'technology' (although they may be functional for other technologies).


So, if we think of a gun; there was the breakthrough of the concept of a gun, what it could do and how; there was the incremental (trial and error) improvement of this basic breakthrough until there were functional guns - and the continued incremental improvement (and specialization) of these guns.

Then there is the matter of manufacturing and replacing guns; then below that there is the function of maintaining a gun (regular cleaning, oiling etc).

Then below that there is the function of shooting guns (so the hit the target, and so they do not kill the operator).

Below that again are sub-functional people - e.g. who cannot shoot the guns accurately, or who shoot them on impulse or for a joke; and these people are a liability because they may shoot themselves of the people on their side. Indeed, they are 'more trouble than they are worth' because they require such a high degree of supervision in order to prevent them inflicting damage.


If we think of an abstract field like science; there are the creative geniuses who make breakthroughs in theories or discoveries; and there are the non-creative intelligent people who may incrementally improve and refine these breakthroughs.

Then below that are the structures of education and apprenticeship which create the environment within which this can occur, and from which the higher level people may be generated - for example the people who work in (properly functioning) colleges and research institutions.

Below that are the people who use the products of science to make and do things (applied scientists, engineers, doctors, technologists);

and below that are the people who use what these makers and doers generate (e.g. skilled craftsmen);

and below that are the users;

and below them are people who cannot use science safely or appropriately - and must have it done for them, or not at all (e.g. children, and other people who lack the intellectual requisites).


This pyramid is also a hierarchy of general intelligence (g).

Intelligence is not the only important factor (personality - for instance - is very important) but intelligence is a vital and constraining factor in the above hierarchy.

If the required level of intelligence for the required function is not met - then the function will not be done.


So if we cannot repair and replace a piece of technology or a social institution (like medicine, or engineering); then when it breaks (due to wear and tear, or sabotage) it cannot be mended or re-made, and is lost.  

And as a society's average intelligence declines, as has happened in Western Europe, then it has a major impact on the above pyramid.

What happens initially is the over-promoted society; where the lack of intelligence means that people end-up at a level one (or two) categories too high for their cognitive abilities.


Those whose job is to make breakthroughs can now only make incremental improvements - they cannot do their core job. Therefore breakthroughs dry-up - and the whole basis of modern societies is lost.

But because breakthroughs are needed there there is a pretence of breakthroughs - and ideas that are just random variations and inversions and recombinations of what already exists (mere novelties)  are spun as breakthroughs.


Those whose role is to make incremental improvements are unable to function above the level of replacements and repair of already existing entities - so established things don't improve gradually as they used to.

They change but don't improve - therefore they get worse.

Perhaps this contributes to the fact that so many able people have given-up on trying to improve functionality, and lapsed into fashionability and careerism.


Those who are supposed to repair and maintain stuff cannot really understand how it works - so repair becomes reduced to maintenance, and the following of predecided procedures.

And the fact that so many people are over-promoted (for lack of anyone better) can lead to a deficiency of mere operatives - who may be inadequate either intellectually, or in terms of personality.

These are, in fact, sub-functional individuals who are being used for lack of anyone else.

And still there is a large and expanding 'underclass' of those unable or unwilling to perform any of the functions required by modern society.


All this is due to complexity.

If the technology is less complex, if the institutions are less complex, then people can perform at their proper level.

Except for breakthroughs which are necessary to modernity, but now very rare or absent - as those of the highest level of intelligence have all but disappeared.

So, what will happen is that things will get less complex - technology, society will simplify - because things cannot be sustained at the current level of complexity.


Sunday, 25 November 2012

The over-promoted society: Bishops and other religious leaders


In an over-promoted society, where the majority of people can do their jobs but do not understand them

problems become obvious when there is change or crisis.


I shall use the Church of England as an example. There has been a substantial decline in the intelligence of people in Britain: what has been the effect on the church?

Well, the people running the church, the Bishops etc, used to be among the most intelligent members of society; and they were cognitively capable of understanding it, and of repairing it.

As intelligence declined (and as the church declined too, and became less able to attract the most intelligent) the people running the church could no longer repair it - but they could maintain it.

So long as nothing went wrong, so long as they didn't try to modify the church - things were fine.

So long as the leaders were humble enough to recognize that they their predecessors were superior in understanding, then matters went on without much of a problem. 


But the trouble with the over-promoted society is that it has a world view of progress, that things are getting better, and that therefore that frequent and radical change is necessary.

So, the leaders are incapable of positive change - because they don't know how to repair their institution, and are cognitively incapable of learning - are no longer humble, but consumed by their vision of progress.

They change things, and things very obviously begin to fall apart. They modify, they modernize the church...


If the modernized church was an aeroplane we could observe that it is grounded, unable to fly - yet, because it is a church not a piece of technology, the people who have wrecked are able to claim they have improved it.

The aeroplane may not be able to fly - but look! It can be used as a cafe and clubhouse!

And yet, claim the leaders, although it no longer flies it is still an aeroplane!


Intellectual decline continues, and the next generation of Bishops and church leaders comes along, and they are people who can neither repair nor even do routine maintenance...

So we get Bishops who are like untrained mechanics armed with monkey wrenches and let loose on some piece of intricate high-tech machinery.

The results are predictable - wreckage.


But in the over-promoted society with the religion of progress, the cause of the wreckage, the reason for the wreckage, is concealed from the wreckers.

The monkey wrench wielding incompetents blame the wreckage of the church either on the people who wanted to leave it as it was, on the basis that we moderns who cannot even repair it, very obviously lack the competence to rebuild it - these are the Prayer Book conservative and Anglo-Catholics; and/ or they blame the wreckage on those who want to simplify the church (leaving the core) to the point that we can understand, repair and maintain it (roughly-speaking, the conservative evangelicals).


But the wreckers are shielded by their incompetence: and this incompetence is due to inability.

The sexual liberation issues that have first divided then corrupted the CoE are really, really simple compared with the theological disputes of the past. They are no-brainers.

Using the standard evaluative methods of the church; the answers are very clear, very easy, unambiguous.

And yet the current Bishops cannot see this; cannot follow simple reasoning based on tradition and scripture (and the traditional interpretation of scripture).

The will not acknowledge their own intellectual incapacity, and - even worse - their own worldly corruption compared with the great Christians of the past whose work they are overthrowing, wrecking.


Incompetence is itself not an evil, and is anyway unavoidable in a declining society.

But when incompetence is denied it leads to pride which is the worst evil: that is the current situation.


The level of cognitive incompetence among church leaders is now so extreme as scarcely to be exaggerated.

This elite are able not to understand matters which used to be within the grasp of most of the population.


The Church of England leadership look at the doctrines of 2000 years of Christianity and they regard them with utter incomprehension.

They cannot imagine how any good and reasonable person could hold such ideas - they regard these ideas as monstrous.

They regard any modern person who holds these traditional Christian ideas as vile.


Since their own competence is, for the Bishops and other leaders, beyond question; the problem is those who challenge the results of their incompetence: those who point out that a church which used to fly is now merely a cafe and club; and even worse, a cafe and club with rapidly declining attendance.


But a church is about flying, not catering.

A church that can fly even two feet above the ground is still a church - but a church which is grounded and functions as something else is not a church: not at all, not even a little bit.


The vast majority of the Bishops and Christians leaders are not just mediocre Christians (we are all that) but not Christians at all, since they have redefined Christianity on non-Christian grounds; and their church organization is not a church at all, since it has discarded religious criteria.

At root this is a matter of sin, of apostasy; but the ground for this, and its swift and nearly-complete corruption, is a matter of over-promotion, of intellectual decline; as is the crisis of leadership in all domains throughout the West.

Once we recognize the fact of substantial intellectual decline, decline in general intelligence, then much becomes clear.


Bishops - it is apparent - do not understand the church, they do not understand the millennial sweep of Christianity - hence they cannot help but wreck it whenever they try to make any change and whatever their motivations might be.

As always, repentance must come first; they must repent their actions (and words, and thoughts) in recognition of their own reckless incompetence; and must pray for guidance.


The Christian Church in general does not depend on cognitive ability - but the Church of England, specifically, has done.

We must lean to do without it; and all the tools are there to enable this - we have scripture and we have tradition, thus we have the traditional understanding of scripture.

If only we are humble enough to be guided by it.  



Saturday, 24 November 2012

Tolkien's influence on my life


I read the Hobbit when I was, I think, 13 years old; and it was a few months before I moved on to read LotR.

The delay was because I liked the Hobbit so much that I wanted more of the same, especially, more of Bilbo - and I didn't like the idea that he would only be a character at the beginning.

Anyway, when I eventually read LotR I was completely smitten. For the rest of my school days I would re-read and re-read and also looked at everything else by or about Tolkien available to me at the time.


As I recall, I did not re-read Tolkien so much in my twenties and early thirties - and the return was triggered by Tom Shippey's Road to Middle Earth.

This era of neglect now seems to me a dark time in my life.

My young adult neglect of Tolkien seems like evidence of corruption and decline (certainly not of maturity!).


Anyway, reading LotR aged 13 opened-up many worlds for me.

Firstly, the world of grown-up literature - the first authors I read were Bernard Shaw, and Robert Graves - specifically the I Claudius and Claudius the God books; because Tolkien also made me want to read more history.

I also read history proper, and especially the history of Anglo Saxon times, and of farming and country life.

Then I became generally interested in the whole business of rural England - for instance the oral history of Akenfield by Ronald Blythe, the work of George Ewart Evans, and the memoirs of Evesham Vale farmer Fred Archer (I didn't realize Tolkien's brother Hilary was at that time still a fruit grower in Evesham).


Considerations of life in The Shire meant that I became interested in Self Sufficiency (John Seymour), the Small is Beautiful movement with Fritz Schumacher and the budding 'Ecology' (now 'Green') movement - also William Morris's stories of a medieval socialist utopia (Dream of John Ball, News from Nowhere); and Thoreau's Walden.


Tolkien's 'medievalism' and use of song led to an interest in Folk Music - which included not just watching and listening, but also participation and a little bit of arranging of unaccompanied song and dance; and then classical music, beginning with Bach and Telemann (because of their use of the recorder! which I regarded for some reason as a Tolkien instrument).


All these strands came together in an interest in myth, legend and fairy story.

And I read other 'fantasy' writers - some written before and some after Tolkien - but only found something of what I sought in Alan Garner and Lloyd Alexander.


Also, I learned a little of Tolkien's professional work, and this (plus good fortune of having a well trained English teacher) led to me reading Chaucer, Gawain and the Green Knight and some other Middle English poetry. This was, in fact, my first interest in poetry - I went from medieval poems to the more modern.


There was probably even more in the way of influence. And of course there were other preceding and subsequent interests, not related to Tolkien and often hostile in spirit to the above - for example a love of the 18th century era of England in its architecture and lifestyle, and of PG Wodehouse; and of science.


But suffice to say that reading Tolkien age thirteen was the door to self-conscious adulthood for me; and I could not have wished for a better door.

My main regret is that Tolkien did not influence me even more, and throughout my whole life; because, of course, I tried to ignore completely Tolkien's Christianity until I was moving into late middle age - not very many years ago - when at last I recognized that this was the deepest element of all in Tolkien's great works.

So, just about the one area of life in which I did not allow Tolkien to influence me at all was religion; specifically my own complete lack of religion.



Friday, 23 November 2012

The over-promoted society


I am now pretty much convinced that average and peak general intelligence (g) has been declining in the West for at least the past 200 years - and the rate of decline is at least half a standard deviation (circa 8 IQ points) per fifty years.

I have recently become aware of further evidence that the above is pretty much correct - but this is not yet published.


What this means is that we are living in an over-promoted society.

We have inherited social structures from earlier generations, with social roles dependent upon certain minimal cognitive capacities - but we lack sufficient people with the requisite cognitive capacity to fill these social functions, therefore although people can do their jobs and functions, they do not and cannot understand these functions.

Therefore when anything goes wrong or when any change is required, people will necessarily wreck what they have inherited.


It has been like giving a bunch of ten year old kids modern guns, tanks and aircraft - they can certainly shoot guns, many could drive tanks, and a few could fly aircraft - but they cannot maintain or repair the stuff - and certainly they cannot replace it.

They simply cannot do this - whether they wanted to or not (and mostly they can't be bothered, and would rather do other things anyway). 


Modern people are the same with their cultural inheritance. Not just technology but religion, science, the education system, politics, administration and management, literature, music, fine arts... you name it, we have wrecked it.

We wreck it because the majority of people who do these things cannot understand them; therefore necessarily cannot maintain, repair or replace them.


Compared with (say) 100 years ago - our premier intellectuals are like their school teachers, our school teachers are like their foremen, our skilled workers like their semi-skilled, our semi-skilled workers are like their peasants, and our unskilled workers are unable (and unwilling) to do anything useful at all.

(I mean they cannot do anything useful in the modern society which we have inherited - in other societies they might perform valuable work.)


And this continues.

There is no reasoning with these people - they cannot follow reason - they are over-promoted, they just cannot understand.


What is to be done?

Start again, simplify, build-up from the ground.

But that will happen anyway, willy nilly...


Note on the phrase 'willy nilly'. From Christopher Tolkien's glossary to Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale: Medieval English possessed special negative forms of some common verbs; see nys, nas, nere, noot [ nys from ne is, is not; nas from ne was, was not; nere from ne were, were it not; noot from ne woot, I do not know]... The phrase 'willy nilly' still contains one: 'will I, nill I' or whether I wish it or wish it not. 


Is the illusion enough?


If freedom is a requisite for human happiness, then all that’s necessary is to provide the illusion of freedom.” B.F. Skinner


If the above is added to nihilism - the belief that reality is not real; that there is no eternal truth which humans can know - then that's modernity - in a nutshell.


To modernity, Man is born wanting stuff he cannot possible get - real freedom, real happiness, peace. God, Heaven, to become divine.

To modernity none of this makes any sense - people can never get what they want, because it does not exist to give them.

But Leftism deceitfully pretends to offer them what they want - Yeah, sure, we'll give you what you want; you deserve it; the only reason you don't have it is that they are keeping it from you - we'll take it off them and give it to you - as is just and proper.  


However, all the time, the Left leaders believe that really they cannot give freedom, happiness, peace - because they are an illusion: so they provide illusions.

The Left robs and bribes and calls it freedom, provides distraction and calls it happiness, turns the world upside down, and calls it peace - but does all this with a clear conscience and indeed moralizing zeal.

They know they only offer illusions, but they regard illusions as infinitely better than the 'reality' which is nothing.


For the Left, at any price, people, everybody, including themselves must be protected from the lived awareness of that nihilism which they 'believe' but which would - if experienced, destroy everything within minutes or hours...

The Leftist prayer: Oh God, make me a nihilist - but not yet.  


Because illusions are addictive.

Illusions are not what people want - of course they aren't (even the partakers of hallucinogenic drugs claim that they are experiencing reality) but illusions are better than nihilism.

How much better? Infinitely better.

Because, in a deep sense, the belief in the necessity of illusions is the only non-nihilistic belief of modern mainstream culture.

Having rejected God as their primary decision, their core conviction; illusion is, they sense, the only thing which stands between them and the void: that is utter, despairing, unbelief - which state is, in fact, belief in the rule of evil. 


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Not Even Trying - my latest book is now published.


Bruce G. Charlton. Not even trying: the corruption of real science. University of Buckingham Press: Buckingham, UK, 2012. pp 156. ISBN: 978-1908684189

Available from


If you want to buy a copy, that will encourage and reward the publisher - but I have waived royalties so as to put the book online in text form after one year.

I think this is the best-written book (albeit a tiny book!) that I have so far managed to do - probably the best of which I am capable.

The book is derived from this blog, so thanks are due to those who helped it by stimulating me to write the original postings, and responding to them. 

BTW: The book has been read by about a score of people, and all but two of them think I go too-far in my criticisms of what-calls-itself 'science'.


Will internet education burst the Higher Education Bubble


No - because if it was going to, it would already have done so.

This paper by my late penfriend Martin Trow was written at least 13 years ago:

And, really, nothing has changed since - has it?

Except that education is now a lot more expensive, and nearly all of it is a lot less educative.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Lamest scenes in the Lord of the Rings movie?


The Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies are just about my favourite movies - certainly judged by the number of times I've watched them, and by my tendency to blub during them; but on the eve of The Hobbit (which I await with some trepidation) - here is a round-up of the lamest scenes.

1. Everything to do with The Ents - their look, the voice of Treebeard, the dreadfully bad editing, the facetiousness - but worst is the scene when the Entmoot has decided not to attack Saruman (!) then Treebeard (the great tree herder) suddenly notices for the first time that S. has cut down half of his forest; instantly changes his mind, summons the other Ents -  and they are immediately just there and immediately go along with his new decision!

2. The whole utterly pointless and functionless plot loop of Aragorn-falls-off-a-cliff, they think he is dead and half-heartedly mourn him, he isn't dead and he wakes up, gets on his horse and rides back to rejoin the others.

3. When Gandalf rides out from Minas Tirith onto the Pellenor Fields to rescue the retreating Faramir from the Nazgul - he carries Pippin with him on Shadowfax!

(This one would get my wife's vote as number 1.)


James Hillman 1926-2011 - a colossal waste of my time


I didn't hear until a couple of weeks ago that James Hillman had died last year. He was probably the major intellectual 'heir' to CG Jung in terms of writing both on myth, and on psychological therapy in relation to modern man and the modern condition; and a few years back (before I became a Christian) I spent an inordinate amount of time reading him (as my bookshelves testify).


I came across Hillman in the late 1980s from an excellent little article in the Resurgence magazine (of the Schumacher Society) - which I tore out and still have somewhere. It was about work as a writer being like that of a farmer; and there is always something to do on the farm - even if not the actual composition. I tell students something like thsi about large projects - writing a dissertation, project or thesis for example.


I went back to Hillman after reading Daniel C Noel's Soul of Shamanism which was a great favourite during my neo-pagan/ New Age period.

Hillman was regarded in this circles as the intellectual and scholarly heavyweight - so I set about trying to understand him.

This was difficult; since the easily understood work - interviews and popular books - was very obviously incoherent; while the scholarly work was very difficult to understand (and dull). I thought I must be missing something crucial.


After some years of grappling, I realized that the scholarly works were, in fact, saying exactly the same thing as the interviews and pop books - but that the deficiencies were more effectively concealed.

The moment I noticed this (actually it took longer than a moment) was in an extended interview when the  conversation revealed that - whatever his intellectual productions might imply - for Hillman, and for the whole New Age/ Myth/ Growth movement, all the vast and wide-ranging explorations are predicated on the wrongness and harmfulness of Christianity - and that, come what may, Leftism is the bottom line

The one and only place that Hillman came off the fence and spoke in clear and unambiguous sentences was politics, and mainstream party politics at that.he was a Democrat, a Liberal, a Leftist first - and everything else was up for discussion.


So, although (like many writers in this area) Hillman has much to say that is acute in diagnostic terms; in prescriptive terms he is not just useless, but worse than useless - actively harmful in that his writings are wrong where they are not incoherent, and have a tendency to waste a great deal of the reader's time and energy - which in itself tends to seduce the reader into falsehood, despair and destruction.


What kind of voting fraud do governments like best?


Expensive fraud - fraud which requires large scale organization and resources.

Certainly - at all costs - effective electoral fraud must be kept out of reach of the little people.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Church of England Liberals have failed to introduce women bishops


The Church of England has voted not to introduce female bishops.

In favour of female bishops

Bishops: 44
Clergy: 148
Laity: 132


Bishops: 3
Clergy: 45
Laity: 74


Bishops: 2
Clergy: 0
Laity: 0

The legislation needed a two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod to pass. The rule is that this issue cannot be voted upon again for five years.
About 95 % of bishops in favour; about three quarters of clergy in favour; but less than two thirds of laity in favour.
(Typical breakdown for Liberalism - top down changed to be imposed on the masses.)
I am amazed, nay stunned. 
I thought it was a sure thing (and so did the Liberals). 
Just goes to show: keep praying, never despair...

Ascetic contrasted with Puritan


We need to understand puritanism, because it seems likely that the backlash against modernity will take a puritan form.

I assume this is likely, since all effective resistance to modernity is among traditional, orthodox monotheistic religious groups that have a strongly 'puritan' nature (with, for example, the Amish being actual old style Puritans). 

The Ascetic and the Puritan impulses seem similar, but have important differences; and indeed Protestant Puritans (from whom the name derives) were explicitly hostile to religious ascetic practices. 


The ascetic impulse is ome of self denial and self control, the desire to be independent of this world in order to focus effort on another realm; a spiritual realm.

The puritan impulse is more of a set of prohibitions combined with a set of approved activities - it is a matter of channeling human energies and efforts.


Thus the puritan is not allowed to do quite a large number of pleasurable and diverting thing; but is required to do another set of things, many of which are - or may be - pleasurable, but that is not their intended purpose.

So the puritan may not be allowed to read newspapers or attend dances; but is encouraged to read scripture and attend religious worship.

The ascetic, by contrast, may be trying to pray without ceasing, without eating, for many hours or even days.


And with sex and marriage; the ascetic will be celibate, will work to extinguish the sexual impulse in all its forms; but the puritan will aim to marry and to have children.


The ascetic life is a form of heroism - against the passions, the body and the world; while the puritan life is a form of discipline - in which worldly things are put to work for a higher purpose.


It is worth thinking about puritan lives, because that is the likely alternative to, replacement for, modernity for most people; asceticism always being a rare, elite and minority activity, and altogether absent from many societies.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Turning-up the fade-out to hear more of the electric guitar solo: top three


1. The incomparable solo by Ian Bairnson at the end of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights of 1978. By the end of this one the amplifier was up to 11.

2. Rick Kemp's bass improvisations at the end of Elf Call by Steeleye Span, on their 1975 album Commoner's Crown.

3. (Controversially, no doubt - but I stand by it) Francis Rossi's simple but lyrical solo at the end of Status Quo's 1981 single Rock and Roll.


The motivation deficit


We live in a demotivated society.

In the world of the demotivated, the motivated man is King.

The future lies entirely in the hands of the motivated.

We know what to do, but we do not do it; however that is not the problem - the problem is that we do not even try to do it. And the reason is that we lack motivation.


All those who are not religious but who oppose the current Leftist totalitarian state (on 'the Right') are engaged in a search for some adequate motivating factor.

They try out economic motivations (desire for more goodies, fear of losing the goodies they have) - doesn't work; they try out nationalism - doesn't work (when the Left runs the nation, nationalism merely feeds the Left); they try out schemes of sexual control of women - doesn't work (genuinely sexually motivated men just get on with their vice as unobtrusively as possible; they don't make political movements to justify it); machismo doesn't work (for similar reasons to the above).


From the secular Right there is a great deal of analysis, plotting and scheming - but near-zero motivation is apparent.

Many calls to fight, many assurances of victory: but nobody actually fights, because they lack motivation.

Easy to prove that if they fought, then they would win; but the fact is they don't fight.

They are all waiting for somebody else to get started, to begin the job - then they intend to join-in, after things have gotten-going.


The only groups that demonstrate real, applied, personal motivation are the traditional, 'puritanical' orthodox monotheistic religions.

You know what they are.

Get on with it: choose.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Why does being a Leftist now mean that you are not a real Christian?


While in the past it was always emphasized that political views had no relevance to Christianity - and therefore that there was a symmetry about politics and Christianity - with problems distributed on both sides: that is no longer the case.

The situation is no longer symmetrical.

Now being a Leftist entails not being Christian - and Christianity lies on the Right, indeed very far to the Right (while, of course, most of those on the political Right certainly are not Christian - although some seek to use Christianity as an instrument in their politics).


Why? Because although honest confusion was possible in the past, Leftism is now old and much developed and multi-national and much repeated; and its is now a certain fact that Leftism is built on and around atheism, that Leftism is intrinsically anti-Christian.

This is now apparent in a way that was not clear and obvious until about half a century ago (excepting to some of the most devout 19th century Russians who immediately perceived the atheist and anti-Christian nature of the Left from the very start of its influence).

Yet to be a Leftist nowadays, in the West, adhering to the New Left in its form of Political Correctness - this is incompatible with Christianity, and there are no longer any innocent Leftists: Leftism denies the reality of reality, has an utterly different model of the world than Christianity - with different aims, meanings, and a different scheme of evaluation - and Leftism creates and enforces the inversion of Good.


Whatever kind of Christian you are, Leftism will force you to deny the fundamental grounds of faith.

This can be seen by considering John Wesley's 'quadrilateral' of evidences for Christianity: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, Experience:


1. Scripture: the Left treats scripture as if it was just like any other sort of writing - having no special quality or authority. Scripture is dissected with secular historical scholarship, language studies, re-translated and re-interpreted and rewritten; put under a microscope on the one hand and on the other hand mixed-in and compared-with other religious texts from other religions. At the end of all this, scripture has become a problem, not the gateway to a new life. At the end of this, plain scriptural information, instruction or statements can be denied, inverted or ignored.


2. Tradition is exactly what Leftism is against. Leftism is rebellion against Tradition, progress away from Tradition, dwelling on the negative aspects of Tradition, discarding and transcending of Tradition, seeking of evidence conclusively to support every aspect of Tradition, characterizing of the past by its abuses and horrors: Leftism is the built-in assumption that Tradition is wrong


3. Reason. The Left (with its heart in the mass media) has reduced Reason to whatever fits into emotive soundbites; and no substantive challenge can be fitted into a soundbite because hostile brief communications are deliberately misrepresented. Reason is thwarted by ever-changing taboos, by the sentence by sentence need to self-excuse, to express proper sympathies and distance oneself from designated-badness. Under Leftism Reason has become one-sided and subordinated to already-existing Leftism: and reason is never  allowed to compel re-evaluation since when it reaches unwelcome conclusions Reason is relativized - as being just one type of reason among several, and Reason hostile to Leftism is labelled as repressive.


4.  Experience. Christian converts often have experiences which convince them of the rightness of Christianity - which assure them of their forgiveness and salvation, that they are being watched and helped. Leftism, however, denies the validity of experience; relabels experience as intrinsically self-serving, repressive, a mass of stereotypes and prejudice. For Leftism, experience is not primary but secondary;  wholly a product of culture, education, propaganda: Leftism sees personal experience as something to be shaped towards a better society, not a basis for knowledge.


So, we see that whatever kind of Christian you may be, Leftism will corrode, subvert and (if persisted-with) overthrow every possible basis of Christianity.

What remains from Christianity in a Leftist, is whatever shrinking, dying, ineffectual residue that Leftism has not yet gotten round to destroying.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Is it possible to be fully Eastern Orthodox in the modern world?


Only in a monastery, I suspect.

Orthodoxy is Christianity in a Christian society - that is, in a Christian monarchy, where the ideal is that all of life be harmoniously integrated into a framework for the highest possible development of theosis (sanctification, spiritual progress toward communion with God while on earth) - where the matter of developing Saints is, in a sense, the primary and structuring goal of society.

This situation is gone from the earth, since the Russian Revolution of 1917; and the conditions for it do not exist anywhere.


Is it gone forever? Various prophecies concerning the End Times (which I have seen collected in the works of Fr Seraphim Rose) suggest that Orthodox Monarchy could be restored in Russia - and perhaps spread from there to some extent; but that is the only possibility, and may not happen if other choices are made.

Absent an Orthodox society, Eastern Orthodoxy is broadly similar in the outlines of its practice to Roman Catholicism and Liturgical Protestant denominations - indeed I suspect it is less well adapted to modern life, and the adherents of (for example) some evangelical Protestant churches are in practice able to reach a higher level of devoutness, of Christian life, of sanctification and/or theosis - than are Orthodox believers.


What Orthodoxy preserves is the memory of an ideal; and this then serves as a context or structure for modern Christian life; which necessarily proceeds at a much lower level (or not at all, in the large majority of modern people).

What Orthodoxy gives us the fullness of Christianity, and the proper balance and focus of Christianity - nowadays in ideal and in memory rather than in lived practice; because the Orthodox Church amputated from the Orthodox state is a partial and broken thing. 

So, I believe that all Christian should (!) read, understand, assent to the ideal of Orthodoxy as instantiated in the Byzantine tradition - not as a perfection of Christian life (perfection is not attainable on earth), not indeed anything near perfection - but as the highest form of Christian development yet seen: a society saturated in Christianity which bred and sustained devoutness and the religious life - including many Saints.

But Orthodox monarchy will not arise in the West, and the high Christian life will not again be possible.


This opens the possibility of, and need for, Mere Christianity - in which a variety of ways/ denominations are regarded as equally valid.

And a world in which (as we see happening) real Christians in all these denominations read and learn from each other; as, for instance, CS Lewis has been read and revered in Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and among evangelical Protestants - up to the very highest level of religious leaders and top theologians.


We need to know about the great past days of Christianity, and to know that they were great by comparison with ourselves; but what we can and will actually do, how we can actually live as Christians, is something very different: something more like the small-scale survival of Christianity under Communism and Fascism, or the Puritan Protestants under hostile Catholic regimes, or the recusant Roman Catholics under Protestant persecution, or the Copts in North Africa, or the Christian presence in Istanbul for the centuries following the fall of Constantinople.


Further, the subversion of the church leadership by secular Leftism all through Christendom means that real Christians enemies include those supposedly in spiritual authority.

Thus real Christians are chronically at loggerheads with the leadership in all major denominations; and traditional structure of authority must be side-stepped;

as when the ultra-Roman SSPX went outside the Roman communion; or serious Anglican Protestants need to seek Episcopal supervision and ordination from South America or Africa; or when devout members of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia remain as a remnant when the Overseas church was reabsorbed by the Moscow Patriarchy.


I envisage a situation when Christian life is an affair of Home Churches with lay Pastors on the Protestant side, and infrequent and irregular Catacomb meetings on the Catholic side (with Romans especially suffering infrequent and irregular Mass) - yet this skeletal life ought also to be structured at a mystical level (the most important level) by knowledge, memory of, and veneration for the great Christian civilisations of the past.



Friday, 16 November 2012

How to know the enemy


Use the Transcendental Values which make up The Good: namely, truth, beauty and virtue.


What we are looking for is planned, strategic violation of the transcendental Goods.

Of course, since we are all sinners, we all violate these Goods repeatedly, and cannot help ourselves. But such inevitable violations ought to be forced, coerced, unthinking, tactical, short-termist, impulsive.


However, the enemy violates the Good with care, attention and much labour.

These violations are gratuitous.


Dishonesty - when it is deliberate, is perhaps the best and clearest hallmark of the enemy and his servants.

For example - yesterday I stumbled across a website for an organization which calls itself 'Affinity' and used to be the British Evangelical Council, and was closely associated with the late great Martyn Lloyd Jones. Presumably this organization used to be a powerful force for real Christianity.

But now... a swift perusal of the Mission Statement and the use of language

reveals that this organization is now deliberately dishonest, hence anti-Christian, hence the enemy.


The destruction of beauty is another test.

Organizations which go to a great deal of trouble and expense to erect objectively ugly buildings or install such works of art, are evil.

I am not talking about Kitsch - which is sincere but incompetent attempts to create beauty; I am not talking about accidental ugliness due to the need for haste, cheapness or convenience - I am talking about the kind of expensive, dysfunctional, aggressively-ugly modern architucture which is normal at present.

This is capped and clinched by denial of the ugliness of what has been created - and the attempt to pass it off as beautiful; to argue its beauty ('award winning'), to boast of its beauty...


Aggressive promotion of sin is another test - perhaps the most obvious one.

When a person or oganization decides to take something which is regarded as a sin throughout the Christian world and/or human history and by the consensus of Mankind; and chooses to invert this evaluation and thereby not just deny but actively propagandize for sin; and in a planned, strategic, deliberate fashion...

well, all this is very obviously the enemy at work.


It doesn't make any difference if such a person imagines they are Christian, or if this is done by an organization which imagines it is a Christian church.

Those who attack the Good, those who invert evil and call it good: they are the enemy - and this is how we know them.


Not by their self-image, not by their names or labels, not by their exposition of supposed Good motivations.

All that stuff must be ignored.


Don't listen to what they say, look at what they do - and what they do in a planned, strategic, deliberate, care-full way.


The timbre of Roy Orbison


Roy Orbison was a very interesting pop music phenomenon, because (I think) people liked him almost wholly due to his vocal timbre - the recognizable quality of his voice - especially on long high notes.


When listening to an Orbison song, I find that everything else is subordinated to the expectation and enjoyment of the sound of his voice on certain notes.

The rest of the song is merely a frame to enhance these notes .


I think this is close to unique among popular singers - most of whom are known not least for their looks or style; but if for singing more for their ability to put a song across, power, phrasing, pleasantness of production, extreme range, maybe pyrotechnical agility - but hardly ever for just the simple sound of the voice as revealed in long notes.


Timbre is not possible to describe with precision - Orbison had a tenor voice in which falsetto was mixed, and which has a rapid tremolo - mostly not vibrato, which is a variation in pitch; but instead a variation in volume.

The combination was thrilling, and also somehow tragic - perhaps due to the falsetto elements which implied a boyish vulnerability.


In a world of nihilism - how can we know *anything*?


It gets more and more obvious that nihilism is the the problem: denial of reality - denial that reality is real.

Denial that there is objective truth and humans can know it.

Nihilism eats away at everything Good: it has destroyed art, architecture, literature, science, education politics - and much of the Christian church.


Once the question has asked - what can we answer?

Once it is asked - How is that known? Why not do this instead? Then modern man is paralyzed, because he has no reason to believe he knows anything at all.


Much is possible to innocent natural people that is not possible to us.

The hunter-gatherer may live in the moment without consideration for meaning or purpose - just live - but merely ask the question why and that possibility is gone forever.


All such questions have but one terminus: divine revelation.

We can only know anything by purposive divine revelation - we must believe that the divinity (who knows, and wants us to know) has built-into-us (natural law), or told-us, that which we depend upon.


Divine revelation is a metaphysical necessity without which nothing else is possible - once the question has been asked.


And we cannot un-ask the question; once innocence has gone, it cannot be retained.

The innocence of a child cannot be replicated and recovered by effort, training, technology, art, drugs, brain surgery nor by anything else: modernity is post-innocent and attempts to restore innocence are its greatest corruptions, its most profound decadence.


Modernity is doomed metaphysically; therefore inescapably.

By its atheism, by metaphysically removing divine revelation from its necessary position as the basis of all discourse; modernity has undermined its own foundations; and all that remains is for the superstructure to collapse into the pit.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

The greatest preaching I have ever heard - Martyn Lloyd Jones



The long term effect of Christian conversion - A.J Krailsheimer


From A.J Krailsheimer's Conversion (1980) - AJK was the English translator of Pascal's Pensees for the Penguin edition. He was a scholar at Christ Church, Oxford.


Implicit in the idea of conversion is that of forsaking the past unconditionally and accepting in its place a future of which the one certain fact is that it will never allow the previous pattern of life to be the same again...

One result of conversion seems always to be that the past, however apparently blameless before, begins to be revalued, even rewritten. 

The convert will see his newly found identity and response to Christ as real; all that previously kept him from it as shadowy, false, or empty.

The sense of guilt is a natural enough concomitant of a conventionally sinful life, but the sense of emptiness, 'vanity' in scriptural terms, is more fundamental. 

As the new relationship with Christ develops, the earlier time spent without it appears more and more of a waste.


Living under (actually existing) communism: government agencies lobbying government to do what government already wants to do...


I read a report about Schizophrenia services on the BBC (it was everywhere in the media) which contains a number of recommendations for government, and wondered who was the charity from which this report originated: a group called Rethink Mental Illness.

That is its name - Rethink Mental Illness!

Wikipedia (but not the charity website) revealed that Rethink... was a new name for the old established National Schizophrenia Fellowship.

And that Rethink... is almost wholly funded by the UK government, with some top-up from Pharmaceutical companies.

So Rethink... is not a charity at all - it is a government agency; a branch of the civil service.


What we have here - objectively, not as a matter of my opinion - is one branch of the government lobbying another branch of the government for more money; and the whole process labelled and presented as a radical conceptual re-framing akin to the 1960s anti-psychiatry movement.


The exceedingly unfortunate people with schizophrenia, and the equally unfortunate people (including children and teenagers) who have nothing of the kind but are compelled on pseudo-medical grounds to take and become physically-dependent upon 'antipsyschotic' drugs, which produce horrible effects including precisely the demotivation and un-employability of which this report complains... these people are just so many counters in the media spin on a bureaucratic inter-departmental wrangle over funding+.


Meanwhile, back in reality, the incidence of schizophrenia (as contrasted with 'early interventions' on people who have not and never would have schizophrenia) is declining...

...which in the normal course of events would lead to a reduction in services; especially making saving on the expensive process of destroying healthy lives and manufacturing chronic patients by coercively prescribing expensive (on-patent) antipsychotics/ 'mood stabilizers' as an excuse for creating jobs for actively-harmful officials, warders and tormenters that are masquerading as health care employees.


+ Reference:


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

"Atheism is the core of the whole Communist system" - Alexander Solzhenitsyn


Thus communism, socialism, liberalism - all and any forms of Leftism whatsoever - will survive and will thrive, and if damaged will re-grow, so long as its core of atheism remains intact.


(Conversely, any political system built upon a core of atheism, will end up growing Leftism.)


The three existential problems of life: alienation, meaninglessness and purposelessness


Christianity is, so far as I know, the only system on offer which claims to solve all the three main existential problems of life:

1. Alienation - feeling detached from the world, that the world is just objective fact and that I have no relationship with the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, landscape or anything else.

2. Meaninglessness - that the decisions and occurrences of life are devoid of any real significance - any sensation of meaning being at most a useful delusion.

3. Purposelessness - that there is no direction or goal in life, that life is just one thing after another and then death (and oblivion, or misery).


1. Alienation is not a problem for hunter-gatherer animists, nor for young children - who are 'animists' and see nature as alive, and they are in communication an in relationship with it.

However, there is no real significance or goal to life for animists: life simply cycles round-and-round, transforming, but in total the same forever. Individuality is transformed into something else, or reabsorbed into the energies of the universe. This is common to most or all types of animism, totemism, paganism.

Christianity solves alienation by adoption of the believer into the family of God and by awareness of the presence of unseen intelligences (angels and demons) peopling this world.


2. Pure monotheisms offer a weighty sense of the significance of behaviours and occurrences in this world - these are all known and 'recorded' by the one God. There is also the presence of angels and demons - so Man is not alone.

However,of monotheisms, only Trinitarian Christianity also addresses the alienation problem - only Christianity promises that the believer becomes a Son of God via death, purification and resurrection in the perfection of 'a god' (infinitely below the one creator God, but above the angels).


3. Purposelessness. To my understanding, all religions except Christianity lack a sense of purpose; since impersonal participation in the energies of the universe, or some cyclical process is not purpose; neither is endlessly-more-of-the-same-kind-of-stuff  but only including the pleasures (i.e. eternity in 'paradise') any real answer to anything.

Paradise it is merely an eternity of euphoria - much the same as a permanent orgasm, drug trip, or a good dream. This is indistinguishable from a state of cheerful delusion; and in fact a species of nihilism. The promise of eternity in paradise is actually an horrific threat.

By contrast, Christianity promises a future state in which - on the one hand - we retain our individuality, our personality, our distinctiveness: we are still ourselves. Yet on the other hand this self is purified and perfected (resurrected) and in the best imaginable situation of living in the presence of Christ.

This is not, of course, an exact or comprehensible promise (at least not to normal everyday consciousness); but my point is that Christianity recognizes that any future which involves annihilation, destruction of the self, or eternity of our unchanged selves is nothing more than a nightmare.

Christianity alone recognizes what sort of circumstances would need to prevail for eternity to be not just bearable but blissful.


The greatest recent triumph of Satan has perhaps been to obscure this fact from the mass of people; the fact that if we believe Christianity to be true, then Christianity is not merely the best offer on the table: it is the only offer on the table that is not in reality some kind of nihilistic horror or everlasting nightmare - even if the horrors and nightmares be disguised with a sugar-coating.

Indeed, more than this, Christianity represents (so far as I know) the only desirable interpretation of the world which takes into account the reality of the world as we experience it, the only one which denies nothing.

It is Christianity or nothing: it is our only hope. And this is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of whether you know enough to understand and understand enough to acknowledge.


You may think Christianity is false, or be uncertain whether it is true - that is a different matter.

But you ought to recognize, to acknowledge, that Christianity is the only religion which you would both want to be true and which could in principle be true.

If you have not yet reached that point, you have work to do.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

War and the devil


Last Sunday was the English Remembrance Day, dating from the 1914-18 Great War.

As we reached the end of a sermon on war, and the fact that God was present always despite the horror of war, I was aware that while everything which had been said was true, it felt incomplete.

What was missing was the devil.


I don't really see how a Christian can properly address the topic of war without reference to Satan.

Without that reference we have - on the one hand, the sinfulness of men and on the other the Goodness of God - but what when the sinfulness of men becomes organized, purposive, when torments are not 'merely' a by product of military necessity but are planned and delighted in, relished?

A particular horror of war is the excuse and opportunity it gives for this kind of strategic sin that delights in inflicting atrocity.

This is, of course, the hallmark of the demonic in its extreme form - and ought to be labelled as such.


One reason why Christians should strive not to be worldly, is that in this world Satan is greatly powerful. The same delight in torture, the delight in the act of torture, is evident in at an everyday level in malicious gossip (i.e. 99 percent of discourse in the public arena), and in Schadenfreude - pleasure in the misfortune of others: a species of that most odious vice envy; and an almost ubiquitous and indeed socially-sanctioned sin from which few are immune and of which many openly boast.


Not the least evil of Leftism is that it puts envy at the core of politics; celebrates and institutionalizes envy, spite, delight in the misfortune of enemies; builds a vast edifice of policy and sanctions on envy.

The Left just is a coalition of envy.


When when it comes to war, Christians need to be aware that leaving-out the devil makes them sound unreal.

Ultimate eternal victory of God is assured; but meanwhile we are here on earth under the dominion of darkness; and we would not be thinking about war if that fact did not affect us.

The world, the flesh and the devil.


Monday, 12 November 2012

My 1999 critique of Leftist anti-adaptationism


Comment - I could have summarized this argument more briefly simply by stating that liars should not be trusted; or that any argument strong enough to throw out the evidence that humans have adapted in response to selection will also throw out not just the rest of science, but also common sense. However, for a Leftist, this outcome is a feature, not a bug.

Also, I now perceive that this entire anti-adaptationism strand emerged from the New Left, affirmative action, 'equal outcomes' evolution of progressive politics from the mid-1960s; and the consequent political need to suppress a century of research into IQ and personality differences between human groups.


No short cuts to science

(a commentary on the target paper concerning Lifelines by SPR Rose).

Bruce G. Charlton

From Behavioural and Brain Sciences 1999; 22: 889

Abstract: Steven Rose regards oversimplification of biology as the supreme sin, inevitably leading to evil consequences, and requiring an unique distortion of scientific practice to avoid it. To avoid this, he proposes a short-cut to scientific knowledge by defining certain areas of biology that are intrinsically flawed. But this achieves only a subordination of science to politics. There are no general-purpose shortcuts for evaluating the validity of theories, and no substitutes for testing specific theories using relevant evidence.


Steven Rose is against “reductionism” in science. For his major example, he invents a theoretical framework termed “ultra-Darwinism” and characterized by intellectual bankruptcy and moral depravity.

The insistent refrain of Lifelines is: “things are more complex than that.”

But this is not enough, because in science things are always more complex than that – science is a search for simplified, unifying theories. The proper question is whether or not the simplification is useful, whether or not the simple model works as a theory, whether its consequences are consistent with the test of further observations.


Hence it is clear that what Rose objects to is inappropriate simplification, rather than simplification per se. But inappropriate simplification is merely a type of bad science – simplification is inappropriate when it does not work. So, Rose is against bad science.

Nothing controversial about that. The problem then becomes: how can we tell bad science from good? How can we tell oversimplification from the right amount of simplification?

To paraphrase Einstein: theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. In other words, we should simplify as much as possible (because simple models are more rigorously testable and more useful), but we will know that a scientific theory is oversimplified when its consequences are inconsistent with structured observation.

An oversimplified theory will not be predictive, because it has missed out important variables. Simplification is bad only when it does not work. In opposing oversimplification, however, Rose conflates the pragmatic and the ethical. For Rose, oversimplification in biology is evidence of moral depravity. He does not accept that any wickedness due to oversimplification is accidental; he is trying to argue for a special logical link such that oversimplification inevitably leads to evil consequences. Implicitly, he sees oversimplification as the supreme sin, requiring an unique distortion of scientific practice to avoid it.


Rose is transfixed by a specific ethical danger: that biological theories about human being may be oversimplified and that such oversimplified biological theories are more likely to be misinterpreted, misapplied, and used to justify moral harm than are any other sorts of theory.

With this in mind, throughout Lifelines Rose is trying to find a formula by which we might know in advance of testing whether a biological theory is oversimplified. The idea is that theories and scientists grouped under the ultra-Darwinist umbrella will be condemned a priori.

It seems to me that Rose wants to do this in order that the general public (who lack specific scientific knowledge) can prevent themselves from being hoodwinked by repressive political propaganda, probably right-wing, that is masquerading as science.

In trying to rule out this particular source of harm, Rose has implicitly set himself the task of constructing a general-purpose shortcut to measuring the truth of scientific theories – to know whether a theory is valid or vapid without having to go through all the hard work of reading, understanding, observing, and experimenting. In other words, Rose is seeking a shortcut to scientific knowledge.


If I am right about the fundamentally ethical drive behind the writing of Lifelines, this would explain why Rose hardly seems to have read about, let alone made the intellectual effort to understand, the major work in evolutionary biology over the past 20 years. Yet this has been a period of remarkable progress during which the theory and practice of evolutionary biology had been transformed. A few of these major advances are name-checked; but never explicated, engaged with, or refuted.

Throughout Lifelines, Rose fails to confront the best and most recent scientific work and attacks obviously inferior studies, garbled media reports of research, or old papers from the 1960s and 1970s that have often (as is the way for most science) since been revised or superseded.

This is merely shooting fish in a barrel.


Mistakes may be forgiven in a book of this scope. But some are evidence of a failure to do the elementary homework necessary for a person who is purporting to critique and redirect evolutionary biology. For example, on page 227 Rose writes “to cling to ‘the gene’ as the sole unit and level of selection under these circumstances, as Maynard Smith and the ultra-Darwinists do, seems perverse.” Well, it happens to be the case that Maynard Smith is co-author of a book (Maynard Smith & Szathmary 1995) called The major transitions in evolution (which was also published as an essay in Nature; Szathmary & Maynard Smith 1995) – a major work on exactly the topic of the many units and levels of selection that Maynard Smith is supposed to have perversely ignored.

Maynard Smith’s book forms part of a significant branch of mainstream evolutionary biology that includes important work by David L. Hull, Richard Dawkins, and some others who are elsewhere categorized in Lifelines as being among the single-gene-obsessed ultra-Darwinists.

Perhaps Rose does not know this work or understand its implications – or perhaps he knows but has excluded it. Whatever the explanation, this line of evolutionary research torpedoes Rose’s major argument. Scientists like Maynard Smith have already achieved a level of understanding of multi-level selection and interaction far beyond that called for in Lifelines.


Evolutionary biology is a science like any other, if it is allowed to be. It should not be treated as a special case. Blending ethical and social criticism with science, as Rose does, is a recipe for dishonesty and double standards. He has subordinated human biology to politics, and is mainly concerned to fit human biological knowledge into a pre-existing agenda of what is acceptable.

By contrast, I would argue that biology is oversimplified only when it is untrue; and not because simple theories are uniquely susceptible to misapplication. An oversimplification of human nature might be used to justify repression; but then again, tortured casuistic logic or a denial of human nature can be used to justify repression with equal facility. Hence, “reductionism” and “ultra-Darwinism” are merely boo-words, and are irrelevant to the proper practice of science.

The validity of a specific theory can only be determined by the laborious work of evaluating its consequences on the basis of specific relevant evidence. There are no short cuts to science, and no substitutes for substantive knowledge.